Date of Award
Bachelor of Science
English, Linguistics, and Communication
Department Chair or Program Director
Major or Concentration
Communication and Digital Studies
Ethos is an important persuasive tool that is classically associated with character and more recently with credibility. However, establishing credibility on digital platforms is more complicated, and research suggests that website visitors often rely on design heuristics. This paper examines how sites that lack traditional credibility establish ethos, using the Fluoride Action Network’s website as an exemplar. Fluoridating water is supported by numerous credible organizations, yet fluoridation opponents maintain a very persuasive presence. Understanding how this anti-fluoridation site establishes credibility without traditional credentials or institutional backing provides insight into the evolution of ethos on the internet. Analysis demonstrated that this website utilizes markers of digital credibility through professional design. However, this group also associates with elements of traditional ethos. They cite various scientific sources, and link themselves to a nonprofit and credible news organizations. This blend of digital and more traditional ethos elements lends great persuasive power to this group.
Rinko, Anna, "Establishing Ethos with Nontraditional Credibility" (2019). Student Research Submissions. 296.