Providing tools to recognize fake news is a key strategy.

With the rise of political conspiracy theories threatening not only the democracy but workplace productivity, psychologists and other experts say employers can take steps now to support their workers’ civic engagement in the run-up to the 2024 general election and equip them to counter false information online.

Conspiracy theories intensified during the mid-term campaigns, endangering candidates and public officials and their families, and some experts fear it will worsen in 2023 and 2024.

Employers, psychologists say, can discourage dissension by refraining from taking partisan stands, providing the workforce with reliable information on polling places and their civic duties, and equipping them to decipher real information about elections from fake news.

Organizations ranging from hospital groups to retail chains are now seeking tools to combat misinformation and disinformation. Misinformation is false information that may be shared by people who believe it to be true; disinformation is deliberately faked information. A 2021 article in the Pepperdine University Graziadio Business Review (GBR)  said conspiracy theories can hurt productivity by causing employees to become angry at one another, withdraw from their colleagues, and reduce the quality of their work.

“When people are spouting conspiracy theories on both sides of the aisle, they’re no longer listening and cooperating with each other,” which can spill over into the workplace, said Teri Tompkins, PhD, a professor of applied behavioral sciences at the Graziadio Business School at Pepperdine University and co-author of the GBR “Conspiracies in the Workplace” study.

“I’m worried that when people aren’t able to trust each other and have confidence that the other person is a nice person, then they won’t share information, they’ll doubt what the other person says, which will slow decisions down, they will take sides and have biases,” Tompkins said.

Propaganda and partisan massaging of the facts aren’t new, but social media has paved the way for false information to spread. This is particularly true of what researchers call “moral-emotional” content. In 2017, psychologist Jay Van Bavel, PhD, and his colleagues found that on a variety of political topics, social media messages that included moralizing language spread further than messages with less moralizing language. Examples include words like, “evil,” “greed,” or “shame.”

A 2021 study in the APA journal Technology, Mind, and Behavior found that outrage and misinformation were tightly linked on both Facebook and Twitter, with outrage-invoking misinformation leading to more likes, shares, and replies than either outrage-invoking real news or misinformation without a moral-emotional hook.


Continued at source…