Sultan, M., Tump, A.N., Geers, M. et al.
Sci Rep 12, 22416 (2022).
Many parts of our social lives are speeding up, a process known as social acceleration. How social acceleration impacts people’s ability to judge the veracity of online news, and ultimately the spread of misinformation, is largely unknown. We examined the effects of accelerated online dynamics, operationalised as time pressure, on online misinformation evaluation. Participants judged the veracity of true and false news headlines with or without time pressure. We used signal detection theory to disentangle the effects of time pressure on discrimination ability and response bias, as well as on four key determinants of misinformation susceptibility: analytical thinking, ideological congruency, motivated reflection, and familiarity. Time pressure reduced participants’ ability to accurately distinguish true from false news (discrimination ability) but did not alter their tendency to classify an item as true or false (response bias). Key drivers of misinformation susceptibility, such as ideological congruency and familiarity, remained influential under time pressure. Our results highlight the dangers of social acceleration online: People are less able to accurately judge the veracity of news online, while prominent drivers of misinformation susceptibility remain present. Interventions aimed at increasing deliberation may thus be fruitful avenues to combat online misinformation.
In this study, we investigated the impact of time pressure on people’s ability to judge the veracity of online misinformation in terms of (a) discrimination ability, (b) response bias, and (c) four key determinants of misinformation susceptibility (i.e., analytical thinking, ideological congruency, motivated reflection, and familiarity). We found that time pressure reduced discrimination ability but did not alter the—already present—negative response bias (i.e., general tendency to evaluate news as false). Moreover, the associations observed for the four determinants of misinformation susceptibility were largely stable across treatments, with the exception that the positive effect of familiarity on response bias (i.e., response tendency to treat familiar news as true) was slightly reduced under time pressure. We discuss each of these findings in more detail next.

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