Document de travail

Emotion may predict susceptibility to fake news but emotion regulation does not help

Bence Bago, Leah Rosenzweig, Adam Berinsky et David Rand


Misinformation is a serious concern for societies across the globe. To design effective interventions to combat the belief in and spread of misinformation, we must understand which psychological processes influence susceptibility to misinformation. This paper tests the widely assumed -- but largely untested -- claim that people are worse at identifying true versus false headlines when the headlines are emotionally provocative. Consistent with this proposal, we found correlational evidence that overall emotional response at the headline level is associated with diminished truth discernment, except for experienced anger which was associated with increased truth discernment. A second set of studies tested a popular emotion regulation intervention where people were asked to apply either emotional suppression or emotion reappraisal techniques when considering the veracity of several headlines. In contrast to the correlation results, we found no evidence that emotion regulation helped people distinguish false from true news headlines.

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Publié dans

IAST working paper, n° 21-127, décembre 2021