Who falls for fake news? Psychological and clinical profiling evidence of fake news consumers

Álex Escolà-Gascón, Neil Dagnall, Andrew Denovan, Kenneth Graham Drinkwater, Miriam Diez-Bosch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Awareness of the potential psychological significance of false news increased during the coronavirus pandemic, however, its impact on psychopathology and individual differences remains unclear. Acknowledging this, the authors investigated the psychological and psychopathological profiles that characterize fake news consumption. A total of 1452 volunteers from the general population with no previous psychiatric history participated. They responded to clinical psychopathology assessment tests. Respondents solved a fake news screening test, which allowed them to be allocated to a quasi-experimental condition: group 1 (non-fake news consumers) or group 2 (fake news consumers). Mean comparison, Bayesian inference, and multiple regression analyses were applied. Participants with a schizotypal, paranoid, and histrionic personality were ineffective at detecting fake news. They were also more vulnerable to suffer its negative effects. Specifically, they displayed higher levels of anxiety and committed more cognitive biases based on suggestibility and the Barnum Effect. No significant effects on psychotic symptomatology or affective mood states were observed. Corresponding to these outcomes, two clinical and therapeutic recommendations related to the reduction of the Barnum Effect and the reinterpretation of digital media sensationalism were made. The impact of fake news and possible ways of prevention are discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Article number111893
Number of pages10
JournalPersonality and Individual Differences
Volume200
Early online date7 Sep 2022
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 7 Sep 2022

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