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Researchers from the University of Maryland recently conducted a systematic review of research into who is most vulnerable to health misinformation and why. The team published its findings in Social Science and Medicine (2022, DOI: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2022.115398).
What they learned: Conspiracy thinking, religiosity, conservative ideology, and conservative party identification are linked with increased susceptibility to health misinformation. Younger adults, member of racially marginalized groups, and social media users are at increased risk.
➡️ Idea worth stealing: The authors’ framework to make sense of the disparate factors that determine susceptibility to health misinformation. It proposes that susceptibility comes down to four psychological processes: the person’s ability to reason plus what motivates that reasoning (accuracy, directionality, and/or identity).
Why it matters: Health misinformation is rampant in today’s media ecosystem. Understanding who is most vulnerable to such misinformation means we can channel our resources to protecting those most at risk. And understanding the psychological mechanism of that vulnerability allows us to pick the most effective intervention.
What to watch: Whether the researchers can quantify the magnitude of the effects these factors have on misinformation susceptibility.