A new study published today in the Proceedings of National Academics of Sciences finds that people who believe they are able to spot fake news are more likely to fall prey to it.
Co-author Ben Lyons of the University of Utah said that while many Americans believe the confusion caused by fake news is great, relatively few people say they spread fake news .
And that counts. “When people mistakenly think of themselves as highly skilled at spotting fake news,” Lyons said, “they may be more likely to unknowingly consume, believe, and share it, especially if it fits their worldview.”
Researchers used two federal representative surveys with a total of 8,285 respondents. Respondents were selected by YouGov’s matching and weighting algorithm to approximate the demographic and political characteristics of the US population.
Fake News Rating
Respondents rated the accuracy of twelve headlines on a four-point accuracy scale (ranging from “very accurate” to “not at all accurate”). The articles all appeared during the 2018 midterm elections. Some were published by mainstream news sources, others by fake news sources.
They were balanced in terms of partisan leanings. In all, there were four “real” news articles that were sympathetic to Democrats and four that were sympathetic to Republicans, and two pro-Democrat and two pro-Republican fake news articles.
An example of a pro-Democrat The fake headline read, “Vice President Mike Pence stole campaign funds to pay his mortgage.”
Respondents were also asked to rate their own ability to identify fake news content. The research team then used these two measures to assess respondents’ excessive self-esteem. They also measured how closely overconfidence is related to beliefs and behaviors.
Approximately 90% of respondents believe they are above average at detecting fake news
Approximately 90% of Respondents said they consider themselves “above average” in their ability to distinguish fake from legitimate news. Three out of four respondents overestimated their abilities in this regard.
On average, respondents overestimated their ability to spot fake news by 22%; In other words, her self-assessment of her ability was 22 percentiles higher than her actual score warranted. And 20% of respondents rated themselves 50 percentiles or more higher than their score warranted.
Using data that measured respondents’ online behavior, the study found that people who They also tend to overestimate their ability to spot fake news.
Similarly, these high-spirited respondents were less than average able to distinguish between true and false claims about current events. Additionally, they were more willing to share fake news, especially when it aligns with their political leanings, the study found.
“This overconfidence is greatest among individuals who are least attuned to legitimate opinions distinguish false content,” the authors write. They also found that these high-spirited news consumers are also “less able to distinguish true from false political claims” and that “the association between overconfidence and a willingness to share false headlines is strongest when the content in question corresponds to the political leanings of the interviewees. ”
Inflated sense of ability is the main cause
Previous research suggests that individuals’ lack of ability may be the main reason for preoccupation with fake news. However, the current study also finds an independent association between inflated perceptions of ability and dealing with misinformation, suggesting that gaps in (self-)perception are an additional source of vulnerability.
These results deliver new evidence of an important potential mechanism by which people can become victims of misinformation and spread it online. Although the study does not identify the causal effect of overconfidence, these results suggest that the mismatch between perceived ability to spot false stories and actual ability may play an important and previously unrecognized role in the spread of false information online .
“Finally,” the authors write, “understanding overconfidence can be an important step in better understanding how vulnerable the public is to fake news, and what steps we could take to counteract it
Study: “Over-reliance on informational judgments is associated with susceptibility to misinformation”Authors: Andrew M. Guess, Benjamin A. Lyons, Jacob M.Montgomery, Brendan Nyhan and Jason ReiflerRelease Date:31. May 2021Published in: Proceedings of National Academics of SciencesPhoto: by Vlada Karpovich from Pexels