Illusion of explanatory depth and its (lack of) influence on the propensity to share fake news
Kirk, Eddye M.
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When sharing news content online, people tend not to think critically about the headline veracity (Pennycook et al., 2019). Further, reasoning can be nullified by overconfidence (Pennycook & Rand, 2019). We hypothesized that by having participants explain the mechanisms behind various political policies, they would come to realize they knew less than they originally thought (the premise behind the illusion of explanatory depth paradigm) and would subsequently share less fake news content to Facebook. A sample size of 644 was recruited and randomly assigned to 3 separate conditions: Explanation, Reasons, and Control. Those who were asked to mechanistically explain the political policy (Explanation condition) were predicted to demonstrate a decline in sharing false content online, relative to the two control conditions. Results for the present study showed that this manipulation did not decrease sharing of fake news and that its effectiveness in Fernbach et al.’s (2013) previous study was not demonstrated in the current study. Within this study, our experimental manipulation failed to decrease overconfidence, and as a result, we were unable to test the effect of confronting individuals with their overconfidence as it relates to the sharing of fake news. This suggests that it may be more difficult to decrease overconfidence than previously reported.