Media Effects Research Lab - Research Archive

Credibility and Sharing Intention of Debunking Information of Fake News

Student Researcher(s)

Giselle Pu (Ph.D Candidate); Sangwook Lee (Ph.D Candidate)

Faculty Supervisor

Dr. S. Shyam Sundar

This paper was based on a project as part of the " COMM 517: Psychological Aspects of Communication Technology" course.


INTRODUCTION
Fake news has become a hot issue in the internet environment. Using the internet's information spread speed, almost real-like fake news is scattered to anyone who is accessing the internet and induces problems. One effective approach to combat fake news and prevent the problems is to display debunking information (Brashier et al., 2021). The goal of this article is to investigate the role of type of modality and preferred learning modality in debunking fake news context. Especially, the psychological mechanism of evaluating and sharing debunking information will be explicated with the degree of realism heuristic of fake news.

 

RESEARCH QUESTION / HYPOTHESES
RQ. In the context of debunking fake news, what is the relationship between the type of learning modality, the use of preferred learning modality, perceived vividness of debunking information, realism heuristic of fake news, content credibility, and sharing intention of debunking information?
H1: Individuals who have debunking information with video modality will perceive higher vividness compared to users who have debunking information with audio and text modality.
H2: The use of preferred learning modality will moderate the relationship between the type of modality and perceived vividness.
H3: Perceived vividness of debunking information will mediate the relationship between the type of modality and (a)sharing intention and (b)credibility of debunking information.
H4: Realism heuristic will moderate the relationship between perceived vividness and sharing intention.

 

METHOD
The researchers conducted an online experiment with a 3 (the type of modality - video, audio, read & write) × 2 (preferred modality or not) between-subjects design to investigate the effects of tailoring of debunking modality. The participants were randomly assigned to each modality’s tailoring and not tailoring condition based on their choice of preferred learning modality. 75 college students were recruited from a public research university in the U.S.

 

RESULTS
According to the result, the effect of type of learning modality on perceived vividness was significant. Specifically, participants in video modality condition showed significantly higher perceived vividness compared to participants in audio modality condition. The interaction effect of type and using preferred learning modality showed a significant effect on perceived vividness.
According to the mediation analysis, the moderated moderated mediation on sharing intention was significant. Specifically, the video modality increased perceived vividness of debunking information and the interaction effect of the type of modality and the tailoring of learning modality on perceived vividness was also significant. Perceived vividness was positively associated with sharing intention and the relationship was moderated by the realism heuristic of fake news. Thus, H2, H3a, and H4 were supported.
Furthermore, the analysis result showed a significant moderated mediation of type of modality on content credibility of debunking information. To be more specific, same as the previous result, the type of modality is significantly associated with perceived vividness, and the type of modality and the preferred learning modality showed significant interaction effect on perceived vividness of the debunking information. It indicates that perceived vividness of participants was increased when the debunking modality with video is the tailored modality. Furthermore, perceived vividness is positively associated with content credibility. Thus, H3b was supported.

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CONCLUSIONS/DISCUSSION
The current study investigates the effectiveness of type and preferred learning modality. According to the result, the type and use of preferred learning modality can influence through perceived vividness from the modality. Specifically, perceived vividness and sharing intention of debunking information relationship was moderated by perceived realism of fake news. On the other hand, perceiving vividness from learning modality was sufficient to evoke content credibility of debunking information. The study contributes to looking for ways of establishing content credibility on debunking information and the ways of promoting sharing debunking information.

 

For more details regarding the study contact

Dr. S. Shyam Sundar by e-mail at sss12@psu.edu or by telephone at (814) 865-2173

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