Belief in Fake News is Associated with Delusionality, Dogmatism, Religious Fundamentalism, and Reduced Analytic Thinking

Michael V. Bronstein, Gordon Pennycook, Adam Bear, David G. Rand, Tyrone D. Cannon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Delusion-prone individuals may be more likely to accept even delusion-irrelevant implausible ideas because of their tendency to engage in less analytic and less actively open-minded thinking. Consistent with this suggestion, two online studies with over 900 participants demonstrated that although delusion-prone individuals were no more likely to believe true news headlines, they displayed an increased belief in “fake news” headlines, which often feature implausible content. Mediation analyses suggest that analytic cognitive style may partially explain these individuals’ increased willingness to believe fake news. Exploratory analyses showed that dogmatic individuals and religious fundamentalists were also more likely to believe false (but not true) news, and that these relationships may be fully explained by analytic cognitive style. Our findings suggest that existing interventions that increase analytic and actively open-minded thinking might be leveraged to help reduce belief in fake news.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)108-117
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Applied Research in Memory and Cognition
Volume8
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 2019
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 Society for Applied Research in Memory and Cognition

Keywords

  • Actively open-minded thinking
  • Delusion-proneness
  • Dogmatism
  • Dual-process theory
  • Fake news
  • Religious fundamentalism

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