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Source credibility is key to derailing fake news: Study

ANI | May 09, 2019 07:40 PM
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Washington D.C. [USA], May 9 (ANI): Fake news is a type of yellow journalism that has become a major concern today. A recent study has provided a roadmap for dealing with fake news.

The research provides new evidence that people's beliefs about the source of information affect how they take in a piece of particular information, even at the level of their automatic responses. They also found that new information can modify or even undo existing impressions caused by fake news.

"We wanted to know whether offering information about the source of news matters for people's gut-level, automatic reactions. Does knowing that something is fake have lingering pernicious effects that can later shape and influence our thoughts and behavior toward the person? Our studies suggest that establishing credibility for news sources is the right policy to combat fake news," said Melissa Ferguson, co-author of the study published in the Journal of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

As part of the study, a team of researchers conducted seven experiments with more than 3,100 participants to assess how the truth value of new information about others affected both their reported feelings and their gut-level, automatic reactions. The experiments ranged from using video games and narratives of intergroup conflicts to studies featuring an individual named Kevin.

Researchers used Kevin to assess how attitudes toward him changed depending on what information was provided. In one experiment, Kevin was depicted positively. Participants were then told something disturbing, including that he had been arrested for abusing his wife.

Researchers found that when news about the arrest came from police reports, gut-level attitudes toward Kevin immediately became more negative. But when that information was attributed to a friend of Kevin's ex-girlfriend, participants retained their positive attitude toward Kevin.

"In other words, whether participants thought this new information was true, determined even their automatic feelings. And, in a separate experiment, this occurred even if participants initially thought the information was true and only later discovered that it was from a questionable source," the researchers wrote. (ANI)

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