Are you a provider of fake news? People who are most confident in their ability to discern between fact and fiction are also the most likely to be victims of misinformation, a US study suggests.
Although Americans believe that the confusion caused by fake news is ubiquitous, relatively few report having seen or shared it – something the researchers suggested shows that many may not only have a hard time identifying fake news, but are unaware of their own. deficiencies in doing so. then.
Nine out of 10 participants surveyed indicated that they were above average in their ability to discern fake and legitimate news headlines. Approximately one-fifth of respondents rated themselves 50 or more percentiles above what their score warranted, based on analysis of a nationally representative study of data collected during and after the midterm elections. 2018 in the USA
In the survey, 8,285 Americans were asked to rate the accuracy of a series of Facebook headlines and then rate their own abilities to discern fake news content relative to others.
When the researchers looked at data measuring respondents’ online behavior, those with inflated perceptions of their abilities more frequently visited websites linked to spreading false or misleading news. Overconfident participants were also less able to distinguish between true and false statements about current events and reported a greater willingness to share false content, especially when it aligned with their political predispositions, the authors found.
“No matter what domain, people on average are overconfident … but more than 70% of people who are overconfident is a huge number,” said lead author Ben Lyons, assistant professor of communication. at the University of Utah.
Although the study does not prove that overconfidence directly causes engagement with fake news, the mismatch between a person’s perceived ability to spot misinformation and their actual competence could play a crucial role in spreading false information, the authors wrote. authors in the publication. study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America.
It also suggests that those who are humble – people who tend to engage in thoughtful and self-controlled behaviors and who think more about the sites they visit and the content they share – are likely to be less susceptible to misinformation, Lyons said.
Factors such as gender also played a key role in the likelihood of overconfidence and, in turn, vulnerability to fake news, Lyons suggested.
“Men surveyed [in the study] showed more overconfidence, and this is a consistent finding in the overconfidence literature, men are always more confident than women, which is not always so surprising. “
He added: “Overconfidence is truly universal. I would be surprised if we didn’t find this in every country we looked at … although we may not see this extreme level of overconfidence, simply based on cultural differences. “