People Who Trust News Sources More Likely to Identify Fake News

Argument analysis flowchart
Figure 1 from Cook, Ellerton, and Kinkead 2018. CC BY 3.0

A recent survey to find out who is susceptible to “fake news” found that people who hate the media were more likely to misidentify misleading information. The research studied a few thousand individuals in the USA about their thoughts on news sources and their education. In an ironic twist those that believe in fake news couldn’t identify what was fake. The findings of the research found that higher education and older age both were factors in being able to find the fake headlines.

That divide — a positive or negative reaction to “news” — mapped onto a number of other elements the researchers surveyed.

For instance, people were given three at least somewhat plausible headlines and ledes that might appear in their local newspaper. Two were real; one was fake. Those with positive attitudes fared better in figuring out which was which. In Kansas City, 82 percent of the half-glass-full types figured out which was fake, versus only 69 percent of the half-glass-empties. (The fake headline? “New study: Nearly half the nation’s scientists now reject evolution.”)

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