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Are we willing to share what we believe is true? Factors influencing susceptibility to fake news


[ 1 ] Instytut Informatyki, Wydział Informatyki i Telekomunikacji, Politechnika Poznańska | [ P ] employee

Scientific discipline (Law 2.0)

[2.3] Information and communication technology

Year of publication


Published in

Frontiers in Psychiatry

Journal year: 2023 | Journal volume: vol. 14

Article type

scientific article

Publication language


  • misinformation
  • fake news
  • susceptibility
  • cognitive utility
  • truthfulness
  • COVID-19
  • social media

EN Background: The contemporary media landscape is saturated with the ubiquitous presence of misinformation. One can point to several factors that amplify the spread and dissemination of false information, such as blurring the line between expert and layman's opinions, economic incentives promoting the publication of sensational information, the zero cost of sharing false information, and many more. In this study, we investigate some of the mechanisms of fake news dissemination that have eluded scientific scrutiny: the evaluation of veracity and behavioral engagement with information in light of its factual truthfulness (either true or false), cognitive utility (either enforcing or questioning participants' beliefs), and presentation style (either sober or populistic). Results: Two main results emerge from our experiment. We find that the evaluation of veracity is mostly related to the objective truthfulness of a news item. However, the probability of engagement is more related to the congruence of the information with the participants' preconceived beliefs than to objective truthfulness or information presentation style. Conclusion: We conclude a common notion that the spread of fake news can be limited by fact-checking and educating people might not be entirely true, as people will share fake information as long as it reduces the entropy of their mental models of the world. We also find support for the Trojan Horse hypothesis of fake news dissemination.

Date of online publication






Article Number: 1165103

License type

CC BY (attribution alone)

Open Access Mode

open journal

Open Access Text Version

final published version

Date of Open Access to the publication

at the time of publication

Ministry points / journal


Impact Factor

4,7 [List 2022]

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