People with high levels of emotional intelligence are less likely to be susceptible to ‘fake news’, according to research at the University of Strathclyde.
The study invited participants to read a series of news items on social media and to ascertain whether they were real or fictitious, briefly describing the reasons for their answers. They were also asked to complete a test to determine their levels of emotional intelligence (EQ or emotional quotient) and were asked a number of questions when considering the veracity of each news item.
Researchers found that those who identified the types of news correctly were most likely to score highly in the EQ tests. There was a similar correlation between correct identification and educational attainment.
The study, by researchers in Strathclyde’s School of Psychological Sciences & Health and School of Government & Public Policy, has been published in the journal PLOS ONE.
Dr Tony Anderson, Senior Teaching Fellow in Psychology at Strathclyde and partner in the research, said: “Fake news on social media is now a matter of considerable public and governmental concern. Research on dealing with this issue is still in its infancy but recent studies have started to focus on the psychological factors which might make some individuals less susceptible to fake news.
“Previous research has shown that people can be trained to enhance their own EQ levels. This should help them to discern with a greater degree of accuracy which news is reliable and which is misleading.”
Participants were presented with real and fabricated news stories on issues including health, crime, wealth inequality and the environment. Fictitious items featured aspects including emotive language, brief information and a lack of attributed sources.
Comments from people who incorrectly believed fabricated stories were real included: “I have personal experience of this”; “My kids are in this position so I completely get this”; “The graph shows it all” and “The commenter on the post has the same thoughts as me.” Those who correctly identified fictitious stories made comments including: “There is emotive/condescending language in the blurb”; “Fearmongering article with no data”; “The source is not an official scientific or governmental source” and “Comes across as more of a rant.”
The spread of bad news — fake or otherwise — is likely to be on everybody’s minds at the moment. Whether it’s legitimate updates on the spread or symptoms of coronavirus, or sensationalism more to do with page clicks than scientific fact, it can be hard to tune out of the news cycle — and to know what information you should be passing on to friends and family.
Past research has found that alarming information is likely to spread further than positive information; we’re also more likely to share news that confirms our own beliefs and biases. But what impact does the experience of stress have on the sharing of negative or alarming news? A new study published in Scientific Reports suggests a complex relationship between the two.
Every year, I teach Adventures of Huckleberry Finn to my 11th grade students. No one can know American literature without knowing Huck Finn. It’s Mark Twain’s masterpiece. It took him seven years to write, and I suspect he finally published it in service to the venerable author’s aphorism:
*With all the talk about fake news you may have wondered what started it all. Here is renowned investigative journalist Sharyl Attkisson giving you chapter and verse.*
Was the effort to focus America’s attention on the idea of “fake news”—itself a propaganda effort? Connect the dots and learn who’s behind it and why. It’s not what you think. Sharyl Attkisson is a five-time Emmy Award winner and recipient of the Edward R. Murrow award for investigative reporting and author of two New York Times bestsellers: “The Smear” and “Stonewalled.” Attkisson hosts the Sunday national TV news program “Full Measure,” which focuses on investigative and accountability reporting. For thirty years, Attkisson was a correspondent and anchor at PBS, CNN and CBS News, where the Washington Post described her as “a persistent voice of news-media skepticism about the government’s story.” She’s a fourth degree blackbelt in TaeKwonDo. This talk was given at a TEDx event using the TED conference format but independently organized by a local community.