Conflicting evidence or conflicting opinions? Two-sided discussions contribute to experts’ trustworthiness.
Mayweg-Paus, E., Jucks, R.
Journal of Language and Social Psychology
This article examines how the way pro and contra information is distributed between two experts in a written discourse influence readers’ evaluations. One hundred and fifty university students read an expert discussion on the topic of computer use in childhood. Information was presented in either a one-sided (each expert holds one position: pro or contra) or two-sided way (both experts provide pro and contra arguments). Results showed that readers judged experts who communicated more consensus-oriented by taking a two-sided stance to be more trustworthy. Additionally, readers in this group subsequently outlined their own opinion toward the topic more confidently. However, the manipulation did not influence how far readers drew on expert information when formulating a response to a writing task. Implications are drawn for helping readers to process expert discussions and for improving expert communication strategies. It is emphasized that expert discussions provide not only content-focused but also rhetorical challenges.