An initial accuracy focus reduces the effect of prior exposure on perceived accuracy of news headlines.
ABSTRACT: The illusory truth effect occurs when the repetition of a claim increases its perceived truth. Previous studies have demonstrated the illusory truth effect with true and false news headlines. The present study examined the effects that different ratings made during initial exposure have on the illusory truth effect with news headlines. In two experiments, participants (total N?=?575) rated a set of news headlines in one of two conditions. Some participants rated how interesting they were, and others rated how truthful they were. Participants later rated the perceived accuracy of a larger set of headlines that included previously rated and new headlines. In both experiments, prior exposure increased perceived accuracy for participants who made initial interest ratings, but not for participants who made initial truthfulness ratings. The increase in perceived accuracy that accompanies repeated exposure was attenuated when participants considered the accuracy of the headlines at initial exposure. Experiment 2 also found evidence for a political bias: participants rated politically concordant headlines as more accurate than politically discordant headlines. The magnitude of this bias was related to performance on a cognitive reflection test; more analytic participants demonstrated greater political bias. These results highlight challenges that fake news presents and suggest that initially encoding headlines' perceived truth can serve to combat the illusion that a familiar headline is a truthful one.
Project description:The 2016 U.S. presidential election brought considerable attention to the phenomenon of "fake news": entirely fabricated and often partisan content that is presented as factual. Here we demonstrate one mechanism that contributes to the believability of fake news: fluency via prior exposure. Using actual fake-news headlines presented as they were seen on Facebook, we show that even a single exposure increases subsequent perceptions of accuracy, both within the same session and after a week. Moreover, this "illusory truth effect" for fake-news headlines occurs despite a low level of overall believability and even when the stories are labeled as contested by fact checkers or are inconsistent with the reader's political ideology. These results suggest that social media platforms help to incubate belief in blatantly false news stories and that tagging such stories as disputed is not an effective solution to this problem. It is interesting, however, that we also found that prior exposure does not impact entirely implausible statements (e.g., "The earth is a perfect square"). These observations indicate that although extreme implausibility is a boundary condition of the illusory truth effect, only a small degree of potential plausibility is sufficient for repetition to increase perceived accuracy. As a consequence, the scope and impact of repetition on beliefs is greater than has been previously assumed. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2018 APA, all rights reserved).
Project description:Consumers regularly encounter repeated false claims in political and marketing campaigns, but very little empirical work addresses their impact among older adults. Repeated statements feel easier to process, and thus more truthful, than new ones (i.e., illusory truth). When judging truth, older adults' accumulated general knowledge may offset this perception of fluency. In two experiments, participants read statements that contradicted information stored in memory; a post-experimental knowledge check confirmed what individual participants knew. Unlike young adults, older adults exhibited illusory truth only when they lacked knowledge about claims. This interaction between knowledge and fluency extends dual-process theories of aging. (PsycINFO Database Record
Project description:As part of the Systematizing Confidence in Open Research and Evidence (SCORE) program, the present study consisted of a two-stage replication test of a central finding by Pennycook et al. (2020), namely that asking people to think about the accuracy of a single headline improves "truth discernment" of intentions to share news headlines about COVID-19. The first stage of the replication test (<i>n</i> = 701) was unsuccessful (<i>p</i> = .67). After collecting a second round of data (additional <i>n</i> = 882, pooled <i>N</i> = 1,583), we found a small but significant interaction between treatment condition and truth discernment (uncorrected <i>p</i> = .017; treatment: <i>d</i> = 0.14, control: <i>d</i> = 0.10). As in the target study, perceived headline accuracy correlated with treatment impact, so that treatment-group participants were less willing to share headlines that were perceived as less accurate. We discuss potential explanations for these findings and an unreported change in the hypothesis (but not the analysis plan) from the preregistration in the original study.
Project description:Disgust is an aversive reaction protecting an organism from disease. People differ in how prone they are to experiencing it, and this fluctuates depending on how safe the environment is. Previous research has shown that the recognition and processing of disgusting words depends not on the word's disgust per se but rather on individual sensitivity to disgust. However, the influence of dynamically changing disgust on language comprehension has not yet been researched. In a series of studies, we investigated whether the media's portrayal of COVID-19 will affect subsequent language processing via changes in disgust. The participants were exposed to news headlines either depicting COVID-19 as a threat or downplaying it, and then rated single words for disgust and valence (Experiment 1; N = 83) or made a lexical decision (Experiment 2; N = 86). The headline type affected only word ratings and not lexical decisions, but political ideology and disgust proneness affected both. More liberal participants assigned higher disgust ratings after the headlines discounted the threat of COVID-19, whereas more conservative participants did so after the headlines emphasized it. We explain the results through the politicization and polarization of the pandemic. Further, political ideology was more predictive of reaction times in Experiment 2 than disgust proneness. High conservatism correlated with longer reaction times for disgusting and negative words, and the opposite was true for low conservatism. The results suggest that disgust proneness and political ideology dynamically interact with perceived environmental safety and have a measurable effect on language processing. Importantly, they also suggest that the media's stance on the pandemic and the political framing of the issue may affect the public response by increasing or decreasing our disgust.
Project description:Reducing the spread of misinformation, especially on social media, is a major challenge. We investigate one potential approach: having social media platform algorithms preferentially display content from news sources that users rate as trustworthy. To do so, we ask whether crowdsourced trust ratings can effectively differentiate more versus less reliable sources. We ran two preregistered experiments (n = 1,010 from Mechanical Turk and n = 970 from Lucid) where individuals rated familiarity with, and trust in, 60 news sources from three categories: (i) mainstream media outlets, (ii) hyperpartisan websites, and (iii) websites that produce blatantly false content ("fake news"). Despite substantial partisan differences, we find that laypeople across the political spectrum rated mainstream sources as far more trustworthy than either hyperpartisan or fake news sources. Although this difference was larger for Democrats than Republicans-mostly due to distrust of mainstream sources by Republicans-every mainstream source (with one exception) was rated as more trustworthy than every hyperpartisan or fake news source across both studies when equally weighting ratings of Democrats and Republicans. Furthermore, politically balanced layperson ratings were strongly correlated (r = 0.90) with ratings provided by professional fact-checkers. We also found that, particularly among liberals, individuals higher in cognitive reflection were better able to discern between low- and high-quality sources. Finally, we found that excluding ratings from participants who were not familiar with a given news source dramatically reduced the effectiveness of the crowd. Our findings indicate that having algorithms up-rank content from trusted media outlets may be a promising approach for fighting the spread of misinformation on social media.
Project description:Politically oriented "fake news"-false stories or headlines created to support or attack a political position or person-is increasingly being shared and believed on social media. Many online platforms have taken steps to address this by adding a warning label to articles identified as false, but past research has shown mixed evidence for the effectiveness of such labels, and many prior studies have looked only at either short-term impacts or non-political information. This study tested three versions of fake news labels with 541 online participants in a two-wave study. A warning that came before a false headline was initially very effective in both discouraging belief in false headlines generally and eliminating a partisan congruency effect (the tendency to believe politically congenial information more readily than politically uncongenial information). In the follow-up survey two weeks later, however, we found both high levels of belief in the articles and the re-emergence of a partisan congruency effect in all warning conditions, even though participants had known just two weeks ago the items were false. The new pre-warning before the headline showed some small improvements over other types, but did not stop people from believing the article once seen again without a warning. This finding suggests that warnings do have an important immediate impact and may work well in the short term, though the durability of that protection is limited.
Project description:<h4>Background</h4>Media frequently draws inappropriate causal statements from observational studies. We analyzed the reporting of study results in the Medical News section of the German medical journal Deutsches Ärzteblatt (DÄ).<h4>Methods</h4>Study design: Retrospective quantitative content analysis of randomly selected news reports and related original journal articles and press releases. A medical news report was selected if headlines comprised at least two linked variables. Two raters independently categorized the headline and text of each news report, conclusions of the abstract and full text of the related journal article, and the press release. The assessment instrument comprised five categories from 'neutral' to 'unconditionally causal'. Outcome measures: degree of matching between 1) news headlines and conclusions of the journal article, 2) headlines and text of news reports, 3) text and conclusions, and 4) headlines and press releases. We analyzed whether news headlines rated as unconditionally causal based on randomized controlled trials (RCTs).<h4>Results</h4>One-thousand eighty-seven medical news reports were published between April 2015 and May 2016. The final random sample comprised 176 news reports and 100 related press releases. Degree of matching: 1) 45% (79/176) for news headlines and journal article conclusions, 2) 55% (97/176) for headlines and text, 3) 53% (93/176) for text and conclusions, and 4) 41% (41/100) for headlines and press releases. Exaggerations were found in 45% (80/176) of the headlines compared to the conclusions of the related journal article. Sixty-five of 137 unconditionally causal statements of the news headlines were phrased more weakly in the subsequent news text body. Only 52 of 137 headlines (38%) categorized as unconditionally causal reported RCTs.<h4>Conclusion</h4>Reporting of medical news in the DÄ medical journal is misleading. Most headlines that imply causal associations were not based on RCTs. Medical journalists should follow standards of reporting scientific study results.
Project description:Countering misinformation can reduce belief in the moment, but corrective messages quickly fade from memory. We tested whether the longer-term impact of fact-checks depends on when people receive them. In two experiments (total <i>N =</i> 2,683), participants read true and false headlines taken from social media. In the treatment conditions, "true" and "false" tags appeared before, during, or after participants read each headline. Participants in a control condition received no information about veracity. One week later, participants in all conditions rated the same headlines' accuracy. Providing fact-checks after headlines (<i>debunking</i>) improved subsequent truth discernment more than providing the same information during (<i>labeling</i>) or before (<i>prebunking</i>) exposure. This finding informs the cognitive science of belief revision and has practical implications for social media platform designers.
Project description:<h4>Aim</h4>Previous research has focused on accuracy associated with real and fake news presented in the form of news headlines only, which does not capture the rich context news is frequently encountered in real life. Additionally, while previous studies on evaluation of real and fake news have mostly focused on characteristics of the evaluator (i.e., analytical reasoning), characteristics of the news stimuli (i.e., news source credibility) and the interplay between the two have been largely ignored. To address these research gaps, this project examined the role of analytical reasoning and news source credibility on evaluation of real and fake full-length news story articles. The project considered both accuracy and perceived credibility ratings as outcome variables, thus qualifying previous work focused solely on news detection accuracy.<h4>Method</h4>We conducted two independent but parallel studies, with Study 2 as a direct replication of Study 1, employing the same design but in a larger sample (Study 1: N = 292 vs. Study 2: N = 357). In both studies, participants viewed 12 full-length news articles (6 real, 6 fake), followed by prompts to evaluate each article's veracity and credibility. Participants were randomly assigned to view articles with a credible or non-credible source and completed the Cognitive Reflection Test as well as short demographic questions.<h4>Findings</h4>Consistent across both studies, higher analytical reasoning was associated with greater fake news accuracy, while analytical reasoning was not associated with real news accuracy. In addition, in both studies, higher analytical reasoning was associated with lower perceived credibility for fake news, while analytical reasoning was not associated with perceived credibility for real news. Furthermore, lower analytical reasoning was associated with greater accuracy for real (but not fake) news from credible compared to non-credible sources, with this effect only detected in Study 2.<h4>Conclusions</h4>The novel results generated in this research are discussed in light of classical vs. naturalistic accounts of decision-making as well as cognitive processes underlying news articles evaluation. The results extend previous findings that analytical reasoning contributes to fake news detection to full-length news articles. Furthermore, news-related cues such as the credibility of the news source systematically affected discrimination ability between real and fake news.
Project description:Stress is a well-known trigger for primary headache yet its impact is difficult to demonstrate in large epidemiological studies. Israeli national TV news is often referred to as the "tribal fire", as many Israelis watch national news coverage following terror attacks or military operations. We examined the association between exposure to television news and their content with headache related Emergency Department visits. This retrospective cohort study included data on daily Emergency Department visits with a chief complaint of headache in Soroka University Medical Center, during 2002-2012. Data on daily television news viewership ratings were obtained from the Israeli Audience Research Board and its content from Channel 2 headlines, the highest rated TV news program. To estimate the short-term effects of news rating during the evening news on the number of daily headache visits, we applied generalized linear mixed models. 16,693 Emergency Department visits were included in the analysis. An increase in five units of daily rating percentages was associated with increase in Emergency Department visits the following day, relative risk (RR) = 1.032, (95% CI 1.014-1.050). This association increased with the age of the patients; RR = 1.119, (95% CI 1.075-1.65) for older than 60-year-old, RR = 1.044 (95% CI 1.010-1.078) for ages 40-60 and RR = 1.000 (95% CI 0.977-1.023) for younger than 40-year-old. We did not find a specific content associated with ED visit for headache. Higher television news ratings were associated with increased incidence of Emergency Department headache related visits. We assume that especially among older persons, news viewership ratings provide an indirect estimate of collective stress, which acts as a headache trigger for susceptible subjects.