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Seminar series

Authoritarian predispositions and the affect-driven spread of misinformation

COVID-19 vaccines on social media

Add to calendar 2022-11-23 12:30 2022-11-23 14:00 Europe/Rome Authoritarian predispositions and the affect-driven spread of misinformation Sala Triaria Villa Schifanoia YYYY-MM-DD


23 November 2022

12:30 - 14:00 CET


Sala Triaria

Villa Schifanoia

Join Julia Schulte-Cloos as she presents her research in the fifth 2022-2023 EGPP Seminar Series.

Social media, already considered an important channel for health-related misinformation before the COVID-19 pandemic, has played an even more prominent role in the spread of vaccine-related Fake News since the global health crisis. Previous work has shown that both trait-related and situational factors influence the spread of Fake News on social media. To date, however, we have limited insights into how the specific contextual conditions that shape political information processing in social media contribute to the proliferation of misinformation. In this article, we develop a theory of affect-driven spread of misinformation. We posit that people are more susceptible to spreading misinformation because they engage selectively, briefly, and heuristically with political news on social media. To test our argument, we rely on a pre-registered online behavioural experiment conducted in two Central and Eastern European (CEE) countries, Hungary and Romania, which we tailor to mimic the general attentional deficits governing political information processing on social media. The results of our experiment support the idea that individuals' tendency to disseminate Fake News is amplified by conditions of affect-driven decision-making. The effect is particularly pronounced among those for whom the misinformation in question is consistent with their deeply held ideological beliefs. This suggests that the fast-paced and intuition-reliant reasoning on social media encourages the spread of such misinformation that is concordant with individuals' deeply held ideological beliefs, which could contribute to further social polarisation across societies.

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