Psychological science can help counter spread of misinformation, says new report

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A new report from the American Psychological Association suggests that decluttering, “priming,” crowdfunding, and teaching digital literacy are some of the most effective ways to combat misinformation.

Written by a panel of American and international psychology experts Wrong informationThe report outlines the processes that make people vulnerable to misinformation and offers solutions to deal with the problem.

People are more likely to believe misinformation if it comes from their own group or if they judge the source to be credible, the report said. “Using Psychological Science to Understand and Combat Health Misinformation: An APA Consensus Statement.”. It defines misinformation as “information that is false or otherwise misleading, regardless of its source or intent.”

The report outlines the main characteristics of misinformation that mislead people into believing and spreading it. For example, he found that people are more likely to believe False statements It appeals to emotions like fear and anger. They are also more likely to believe misinformation that paints groups they view as “other” in a negative light. And the more repetitive the information, the more likely people are to believe it, even if it contradicts their prior knowledge. These findings underscore the importance of stopping misinformation early, the report said.

The report also describes aspects of social media that help misinformation spread quickly. “Instant publishing and peer-to-peer sharing allow ordinary users to quickly disseminate information to large audiences, so misinformation can be policed ​​after the fact (if any),” the report said. “‘Echo chambers’ bind and isolate like-minded online communities, which helps the spread of falsehoods and inhibits the spread of authentic corrections.”

As a result, “most online misinformation originates from a small minority of ‘supervisors,’ but social media magnifies their reach and influence.”

According to the report, there are two levels to stopping misinformation: systematic approaches, such as legislation and technology standards, and individual approaches focused on changing individual behavior. The latter includes:

  • reality checkor debunking;
  • In the first place, pre-hiding or pre-removal to prevent people from falling for misinformation;
  • Criticism, such as asking people to check the accuracy of information before sharing it, or rewarding people for being as accurate as possible;
  • And formal education Or Community participation To raise people’s awareness of healthy online behavior and media use.

The report acknowledges that there is much to learn, and recommends more. Research funding and industry collaboration to create tools to understand and correct behaviors associated with misinformation. The panel members who wrote the report reviewed it over a year Scientific literature To develop their recommendations. The report was sent by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

While the panel’s recommendations focused on health misinformation, they could also apply to broader topics such as politics and climate change. For example, these findings provide direct input to one of the main issues discussed EPA Health Advisory on Social Media Solving strategies to combat misinformation.

The report recommends eight steps for policymakers, scientists, the media, and the public to help curb the spread of misinformation and the dangers it poses to health, safety, and citizens’ lives.

  1. Avoid repeating incorrect information without correction.
  2. Collaborate with social media companies to understand and reduce the spread of harmful misinformation.
  3. Use misinformation strategies with proven tools to promote healthy behaviors.
  4. Use trusted sources to prevent misinformation and provide accurate health information.
  5. Dispel misinformation often and repeatedly using evidence-based methods.
  6. Advance misinformation to immunize vulnerable audiences by building skills and building resilience from childhood.
  7. Demand data access and transparency social media Companies b Scientific research On wrong information.
  8. Fund basic and translational research, including ways to challenge health misinformation.

“These psychological science findings help explain how misinformation enters our thinking processes,” the report said. “It’s harder and harder for our brains to apply existing knowledge when confronted with new information. If new claims are false, we can reasonably learn them as true. So everyone is susceptible to some degree of misinformation. The more we know.”

Additional information:
American Psychological Association, “Using Psychological Science to Understand and Combat Health Misinformation: An APA Consensus Statement.” (2023)

QuoteNew report (2023, November 29) Retrieved November 29, 2023 from Psychological science can help prevent the spread of misinformation.

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