Cognitive Authorities in Everyday Health Information Environments of Young People


The CogAHealth project, funded by the Academy of Finland, investigated the construction of health-related cognitive authorities among young people. The project examined what information sources young people consider credible and how authority is constructed in modern, multimodal health communication. The findings can be used to promote health, well-being and health equality of the young.
Nykyajan terveysviestinnässä nuoret joutuvat muovaamaan mielipiteitään kameleontin tavoin.

Project information

Project duration


Funded by

Academy of Finland - Academy Project

Project coordinator

University of Oulu

Contact information

Project leader

Project description

In the past few decades, people’s health and wellbeing have steadily improved in Western countries, but the lifestyles of children and the young are a concern. Obesity rates among young people are increasing and their physical condition has deteriorated due to their unhealthy diet and inactive way of life. This phenomenon are expected to lead to severe national health problems in the future.

The project was based on a sociocultural viewpoint, and it combined the perspectives of information studies and educational sciences on transforming literacies in everyday life informal online environments and formal school settings. The points of departure were the notions of information literacy, multiliteracy and new literacies, which refer to competencies that are crucial for dealing with modern, interactive information environments also in health contexts. You cannot always know what to believe and who to trust in the ever-changing flood of information in the contemporary society and the global world. Adolescents may feel that they are like a chameleon, because they must change their colour due to the impact of information from various sources.

The methodological approach of the study was nexus analysis, which had not previously been used in the research fields of health related literacies or information research. The project was implemented in collaboration by the Information Studies’ researchers of the Faculty of Humanities and researchers from the Faculty of Education at the University of Oulu in 2016–2020.

Project results

CogAHealth investigated cognitive authorities of young people in multimodal health communication. From a sociocultural viewpoint, the study combined the perspectives of information studies and educational sciences on transforming literacies in everyday life environments. The data, consisting of video and text material produced by young people, and interviews and observations, were
qualitatively analyzed to understand the construction of authority among students as follows: young people as learners at school and leisure, and as social media influencers, and teacher as an informational authority. Trust building, not only competence, and experience-based knowledge are the core when cognitive authority is constructed in school and leisure environments. CogAHealth, from 2016 to 2019, regenerates methodologically research on health information literacy, and is continued in research on artificial intelligence (AI) literacy.

Project information

Research group

  • PhD Maija-Leena Huotari, Research Professor

  • PhD Noora Hirvonen, Postdoctoral Researcher

  • PhD Laura Palmgren-Neuvonen, Postdoctoral Researcher

  • PhD, DDS Helena Känsäkoski, Postdoctoral Researcher

  • MA Anna-Maija Multas, Doctoral Researcher

  • MA Tuula Nygård, Doctoral Researcher