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Americans share fake news to fit in with social circles

  • Journalism and Facts
  • Social Media and Internet
  • Politics

Fear of exclusion contributes to spread of fake news, research finds

Read the journal article

  • Tribalism and Tribulations (PDF, 495KB)

WASHINGTON — Both conservative and liberal Americans share fake news because they don’t want to be ostracized from their social circles, according to research published by the American Psychological Association.

“Conformity and social pressure are key motivators of the spread of fake news,” said lead researcher Matthew Asher Lawson, PhD, an assistant professor of decision sciences at INSEAD, a business school in France. “If someone in your online tribe is sharing fake news, then you feel pressure to share it as well, even if you don’t know whether it’s false or true.”

The research was published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: General.

The proliferation of fake news contributes to increasing political polarization and distrust of democratic institutions, according to the Brookings Institution. But fake news doesn’t always proliferate due to dark motives or a call for action. The researchers began studying the issue after noticing people in their own social networks sharing fake news seemingly without malicious intent or ideological purpose.

“Political ideology alone doesn’t explain people’s tendency to share fake news within their social groups,” Lawson said. “There are many factors at play, including the very basic desire to fit in and not to be excluded.”

One experiment analyzed the tweets and political ideology of more than 50,000 pairs of Twitter users in the U.S., including tweets sharing fake or hyper-partisan news between August and December 2020. (Political ideology was determined through a network-based algorithm that imputes ideology by looking at the types of accounts Twitter users follow.) The number of tweets between pairs of Twitter users in the same social circles were measured. Twitter users were less likely to interact with each other over time if one of them shared a fake news story and the other did not share that same story. The same effect was found regardless of political ideology but was stronger for more right-leaning participants.

A second experiment analyzed 10,000 Twitter users who had shared fake news in the prior test, along with another group that was representative of Twitter users in general. Twitter users who had shared fake news were more likely to exclude other users who didn’t share the same content, suggesting that social pressures may be particularly acute in the fake news ecosystem.

Across several additional online experiments, participants indicated a reduced desire to interact with social connections who failed to share the same fake news. Participants who were more concerned about the social costs of not fitting in were also more likely to share fake news.

While fake news may seem prolific, prior research has found that fake news only accounts for 0.15% of Americans’ daily media consumption, and 1% of individuals are responsible for 80% of fake news sharing. Other research found that election-related misinformation on Twitter decreased by 73% after Donald Trump was banned from the platform.

Many complex factors contribute to people’s decisions to share fake news so reducing its spread is difficult, and the role of social media companies isn’t always clear, Lawson said.

“Pre-bunking” methods that inform people about the ways that misinformation spreads and highlighting the importance of the accuracy of news can help reduce the spread of fake news. However, finding ways to ease the social pressure to conform in online spaces may be needed to start winning the war on misinformation, Lawson said.

Article: “Tribalism and Tribulations: The Social Costs of Not Sharing Fake News,” Matthew Asher Lawson, PhD, INSEAD, Shikhar Anand, Indian Institute of Technology Delhi, and Hemant Kakkar, PhD, Duke University, Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, published online March 9, 2023.

Are you a woman who is struggling with your weight? If you are, you are definitely not alone. Today, many women are faced with many issues, including weight. If you are unhappy with your current weight, you may be interested in changing it, but, for many, that is often easier said than done.

When it comes to losing weight, many women are able to come up with an unlimited number of excuses as to why they can’t lose weight or excuses as to why this important issue should be pushed off to the side for now. Many women are lacking the motivation needed to lose weight. If you are one of those women, you will want to continue reading on. Below, three reasons as to why you should lose weight are outlined and these reasons may serve as the motivation that you have been looking for

#1 – Appearance

Although many women are satisfied with the way that they look, many are not. If you are currently unhappy with the way that you look and feel, you will want to consider losing weight. Weight loss, even a small one, can significantly improve the way that you see yourself, as well as the way that others see you. If you hate looking at yourself in the mirror every morning, it may be time to think about losing weight.

#2 – Health

For many women, being overweight or obese isn’t just about carrying around a few extra pounds. Obesity has been linked to a number of health complications, including high blood pressure, diabetes, as well as the early onset of death. If you do not take steps to lose weight now, especially if you are seriously overweight, your health may have other plans for you. It is important to mention that those plans may not necessarily be good ones.

#3 Wellbeing

In addition to benefiting your health and your physical appearance, weight loss can also make you feel good about yourself. Many women notice an instant improvement in their self-confidence and self-esteem when they lose weight. This means that even if you are suffering from other issues, aside from weight-related issues, weight loss may be able to assist you with overcoming those issues or at least the stress that is associated with them.

The three above mentioned reasons are just a few of the many reasons why you may want to think about losing weight if you have weight to lose. Should you decide that losing weight is in your best interest, you may want to think about making an appointment with a healthcare professional. These types of appointments are important, as well as insightful. Your healthcare professional may be able to instruct you in safe ways that you can go about losing weight and they may also be able to help you set reasonable weight loss goals for yourself.

Although it is advised that you speak with a healthcare professional about your intent to lose weight, you don’t have to just rely on their expertise or their input. A large number of women, just like you, lose weight by joining locally operated weight loss programs, as well as online weight loss programs. What is nice about weight loss programs, both those operated locally and online, is that you often walk away with professional advice, as well as support from others just like you.

“Healthy” Foods That Are Actually Unhealthy

Published on 04/25/2021
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Almost every week there is a new superfood or ingredient that should help you shed extra pounds, boost your energy and strengthen your immune system. For decades, food companies have been trying to convince their customers to buy products that are full of additives, chemicals, and other questionable items. And while many of them are marketed as particularly healthy, these products can have negative effects on your health. Here are some supposedly “healthy” foods and their better alternatives.

“Healthy” Foods That Are Actually Unhealthy

Granola

Granola is the healthy breakfast alternative to sweet donuts or pancakes with syrup? Unfortunately not – granola is full of sugar (8 to 12 g per serving) and empty calories and should therefore be considered a dessert. Ingesting a large amount of sugar in the morning can be detrimental to your health. Studies show that increased sugar intake is linked to a higher risk of cancer, diabetes, and obesity. You can avoid this by simply making your own granola (or granola / granola bars) at home with nutrient-rich ingredients like oats, nuts, seeds, and dried fruits for natural sweetness. If you want to leave out granola entirely, just use chia seeds or hemp seeds as a crispy alternative to your yogurt or bowl of oatmeal!

Processed Fruit Juices

Even if you used to think that fruit juice was healthy – now you should definitely cross it off your shopping list. It contains a high and concentrated dose of fructose, but without the beneficial fiber that you get from whole foods. The same fiber has numerous benefits and helps you slow down the absorption of sugar into the bloodstream, avoiding sudden sugar shocks or hypoglycaemia. It also reduces the risk of heart disease, diabetes, obesity, and high blood pressure.

Diet Snacks

Snacks such as vegetable chips are considered a healthy snack between meals and an alternative to high-fat products such as potato chips. However, many of the store-bought brands are deep-fried and are usually high in sodium, fat, and other artificial additives that you should absolutely avoid.
So how about homemade vegetable chips made from carrots, courgettes, radishes or cabbage? Fat-free popcorn, roasted chickpeas, or roasted pumpkin seeds are also healthy alternatives.

Artificial Sweetener

Artificial sweeteners are mostly hidden in “healthy” foods, but they are actually harmful to your health. Studies show that sweeteners like aspartame, sucralose and saccharin can even stimulate your appetite and lead to food cravings. This subsequently leads to weight gain (possibly even obesity) and a deterioration in your intestinal health. You should definitely avoid diet foods with artificial sweeteners. Sweeten your food yourself. With fresh fruit, stevia, raw honey or maple syrup you can season your meals naturally and so satisfy your cravings for sweets – without any additional chemicals or other no-gos.