Fighting Fake News with Accuracy: Dual Processing Perspective
|Author:||Mgr. Mikayel Harutyunyan|
|Year:||2021 - summer|
|Leaders:|| doc. PhDr. Julie Chytilová Ph.D.
|Work type:|| Masters
|Awards and prizes:||Deloitte Outstanding Thesis Award.|
|Abstract:||The phenomenon of "fake news", or misleading online content, is increasingly worrisome due to
its large-scale socio-economic impact. Researchers and practitioners attempted to understand what
drives the virality and believability of fake news and how to reduce its influence. This research
aims to shed light on these questions. Building upon a theoretical account positing that people
share fake news because they simply fail to engage in deliberate thinking, we designed an accuracy
prompt intervention to encourage people to think effortfully. In a pre-registered study conducted
via Prolific (N = 520), we find limited evidence supporting accuracy prompts stylized as warning
labels, but only for increasing sharing discernment in true, not fake news. The veracity of news
articles does not impact sharing intentions, despite having a sizeable effect on accuracy judgments.
This and other findings support the dual processing theory of cognition in the context of fake news.
Predispositions towards more intuitive thinking increased belief in fake news and higher distrust
in true news. Conversely, a better ability to engage in effortful thinking increases truth
discernment. In addition, confirmation bias decreases truth discernment and increases sharing
intentions. Politically concordant true headlines are believed and shared more, but the effect differs
on the individual (negative) and county (positive) level in case of fake news. Overall, our study
provides a theoretical foundation for scalable dual processing-based interventions that social media
could implement to fight online misinformation.