All posts by AineSophrosyne

Could Attitude Inoculation Help Counter The growing problem of “fake news” (false online news stories often shared via social media)? 

Sander van der Linden and colleagues (2017) exposed participants to a fake news story claiming that scientists have yet to reach a consensus about whether global warming is caused by humans (a false claim; 97% of climate scientists agree it is). 

Those who saw the false claim were later more likely to believe no consensus had been reached. 

But if readers were warned that “politically motivated groups” use “misleading tactics” to claim that there is no consensus—helping them develop a counterargument—they were less likely to believe the false claim.

 In a meta-analysis of 52 studies, researchers found that false claims were more likely to persist if people were simply told they were wrong.

 But if people learned detailed counterarguments, false beliefs were more likely to be debunked (Chan et al., 2017). 

So if your Facebook friend spreads a fake news story, don’t just tell her it’s wrong—link to a story that debunks it in detail.


Myers, David G. (2021). Exploring Social Psychology (9th ed.). McGraw-Hill.