To Vet, or Not: That Is the Process: Scale Development for Measuring Individuals’ Information Vetting

Accepted for presentation at the International Communication Association (ICA) Conference, Information Systems Division, May 21-25, 2020, Gold Coast, Australia.

Abstract: To refine the conceptualization and operationalization of information vetting in an increasingly complex and conflicting media environment, this study developed and tested a 26-item scale for measuring whether (and if so, how) individuals vet information in the context of a crisis embedded with conflicting information, employing two survey data sets based on U.S. adult samples. Four clusters of information vetting behaviors were rendered, affirming and extending the two-stage information vetting conceptual framework: (1) motivation, (2) primary vetting in terms of source perception, (3) primary vetting in terms of channel perception, and (4) secondary vetting in terms of subjective feeling about self. This new scale’s validity and reliability were further assessed and confirmed, making it a useful tool for measuring individuals’ online informational and communicative behavior in times of crisis, conflict, and other contentious issues that trigger the urgency for information vetting before its full consumption and further dissemination.