Research goals

In addition to our own experiences, we only know what we are told of the world. We do not believe everything we are told, though; instead, we assess the cognitive authority of experts and other sources of information (Wilson 1983). Experts and other sources of information that we deem reliable are potential cognitive authorities whom we assess based on the author of the text, the institution behind it, the features of the text and intuitive credibility. (Rieh 2010) Cognitive authority is not so much based on a person’s position as on their expertise, reputation and credibility; different kinds of authorities can be identified in different communities and situations (Wilson 1983).

Guided by these thoughts, we are studying how authorities are created in the everyday life of young people (aged 13 to 16) at school and in their free time. We have formulated the following research questions:

  1. How are questions involving cognitive authority studied in research literature?

  2. What or whom do the young consider their cognitive authorities in the context of health?

  • On what do the young base their assessment of cognitive authorities?
  •  What kind of role do trusted people (such as teachers or parents) have in the creation of the cognitive authorities?
  •  How do the young create cognitive authority when producing health information themselves?



Gee, J.P. (2010). New digital media and learning as an emerging area and "worked examples" as on way forward. Cambridge MA, MIT Press.

Leu, D., Kinzer, C. K., Coiro, J. & Cammack, D. W. (2004). Toward a theory of new literacies emerging from the Internet and other information and communication technologies. In: Ruddell RB & Unrau N (eds) Theoretical models and processes of reading 5(1). Newark DE, International Reading Association: 1570-1613.

Niemelä, R., Ek, S., Eriksson-Backa, K. & Huotari, M.-L. (2012). A screening tool for assessing everyday health information literacy. Libri 62(2): 125-134.

OECD (2014). Obesity update. URI:

Opetushallitus (2014). Perusopetuksen opetussuunnitelman perusteet. URI:

Rieh, S. Y. (2010). Credibility and cognitive authority of information. In M. Bates & M.N. Maack (Eds.) Encyclopedia of Library and Information Sciences, 3rd Ed. (pp. 1337-1344), New York: Taylor and Francis Group, LLC.

Selander, S. & Kress, G. (2010). Design för lärande  ̶  ett multimodalt perspektiv [Design for learning  ̶  a multimodal perspective]. Stockholm, Norstedt.

Viner, R. M., Ozer, E. M., Denny, S., Marmot, M., Resnick, M., Fatusi, A. & Currie, C. (2012). Adolescence and the social determinants of health. The Lancet 379(9826): 1641-1652.

Wilson, P. (1983). Second-hand knowledge: an inquire into cognitive authority. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press.

Last updated: 8.12.2016