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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.

Fruit and Vegetable Diet

Most of us know just how healthy fruit and vegetables are, yet for some reason many of us simply don’t get enough in our everyday diets. If you feel as though your health may be lacking in this area then starting a fruit and vegetable diet is a fantastic choice of new year’s resolution.

Using The Fruit and Vegetable Diet As A New Year Detox

The fruit and vegetable diet can mean a few different things. One option is to eat only fruit and vegetables as a way to detox as a way to start your new year’s weight loss resolution. By cleansing your body for a period of around two weeks, you’ll be giving your weight loss efforts a head start. You’ll cleanse your body of toxins and help to rid yourself of unhealthy eating habits. But be warned – this kind of diet isn’t easy and you should always see a doctor before you get started!

If you want a more long term diet plan then opt to simply include a greater number of fruits and vegetables in your every day diet. Aside from the fruits and vegetables, you should make sure that the rest of your diet remains balanced.

What Are The Benefits Of A Fruit And Vegetable Diet?

There are a number of benefits of incorporating more fruits and veg in your diet. For a start, they are very high in fiber. In turn this can impact your health by helping to control blood glucose levels, keeping your digestive system running smoothly, reducing the risk of some cancers and reducing cholesterol levels.

Fruit and vegetables also contain a huge number of vitamins and minerals that we need for our bodies to function properly. These help to prevent a whole range of diseases and health conditions and keep us as healthy as possible.

What Should You Be Eating?

As part of a standard diet, you should be getting at least five portions of fruit and veg every day – and these should come from a wide range of different sources. Eating them fresh means you’ll get the greatest benefit, though you can incorporate dried fruits into your diet if it helps. Remember the general rule – the more colorful the vegetables on your plate, the more healthy your meal is.

Many of us aren’t simply getting what we need, so starting a fruit and vegetable diet is certainly a good resolution to make for the new year. If you’re finding it difficult then try to make things easier by drinking smoothies and making soups. Your body will thank you for it!

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.