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Inoculation can reduce the perceived reliability of polarizing social media content

Harrop, Isobel, Roozenbeek, Jon, Madsen, Jens ORCID: 0000-0003-2405-8496 and van der Linden, Sander (2023) Inoculation can reduce the perceived reliability of polarizing social media content. International Journal of Communication, 17. 5291 – 5315. ISSN 1932-8036

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Little research is available on psychological interventions that can counter susceptibility to polarizing online content. We conducted three studies (n1 = 472, n2 = 193, n3 = 772) to evaluate whether psychological resistance against polarizing social media content can be conferred. To do so, we use the Bad News game, a “technique-based inoculation” intervention which simulates a social media feed. We investigate (1) whether technique-based inoculation can reduce susceptibility to content designed to fuel intergroup polarization; (2) whether technique-based inoculation can offer cross-protection against misinformation techniques against which people were not inoculated; and 3) whether political ideology plays a role in how people engage with anti-misinformation interventions. In studies 1 and 3 (but not study 2), we find that technique-based inoculation significantly reduces the perceived reliability of polarizing content, and offers partial cross-protection against untreated misinformation techniques. We also find no effect for attitudinal certainty and news sharing intentions. Finally, we report preliminary evidence that people may choose to engage with politically congruent news topics within the intervention.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2022 The Authors
Divisions: Psychological and Behavioural Science
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Date Deposited: 09 May 2022 10:48
Last Modified: 15 May 2024 16:45

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