Conspiracy Theories by Nick Youngson CC BY-SA 3.0 Alpha Stock Images

Given the information environment we are in, getting a handle on what is true and what is misleading is not just a question of integrity and morality but a matter of survival. Disinformation kills people. Poor quality information short-circuits wise decision-making, leading to the spread of preventable diseases, undermining public health initiatives, and delaying or obstructing us from recognizing and responding to escalating threats, including climate change, COVID 19, human migration, and many others.

People tend to “believe lies despite the obvious truth” if something seems like it might be true (the “gist” versus “verbatim” truth), and is aligned with their values and wishes. Moreover, they are also likely to share it without pause. However, research is less clear about what individual factors come into play when people decide whether to engage with or share potentially misleading posts on social media.

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