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Research Report: A Link between Sertraline Treatment and Susceptibility to (Mis)information


[ 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

ACS Chemical Neuroscience

Journal year: 2024 | Journal volume: vol. 15 | Journal number: iss. 7

Article type

scientific article

Publication language


  • misinformation
  • sertraline
  • susceptibility to fake news
  • serotonin
  • online research

EN Recent research revealed that several psycho-cognitive processes, such as insensitivity to positive and negative feedback, cognitive rigidity, pessimistic judgment bias, and anxiety, are involved in susceptibility to fake news. All of these processes have been previously associated with depressive disorder and are sensitive to serotoninergic manipulations. In the current study, a link between chronic treatment with the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) sertraline and susceptibility to true and fake news was examined. Herein, a sample of 1162 participants was recruited via Prolific Academic for an online study. Half of the sample reported taking sertraline (Zoloft) for at least 8 weeks (sertraline group), and the other half confirmed not taking any psychiatric medication (control group). The sertraline group was further divided according to their daily dosage (50, 100, 150, and 200 mg/day). All participants completed a susceptibility to misinformation scale, wherein they were asked to determine the veracity of the presented true and fake news and their willingness to behaviorally engage with the news. The results were compared between those of the sertraline groups and the control group. The results showed that sertraline groups did not differ significantly in the assessment of the truthfulness of information or their ability to discern the truth. However, those taking sertraline appeared to have a significantly increased likelihood of behavioral engagement with the information, and this effect was observed for both true and fake news. The research presented here represents the initial endeavor to comprehend the neurochemical foundation of the susceptibility to misinformation. The association between sertraline treatment and increased behavioral engagement with information observed in this study can be explained in light of previous studies showing positive correlations between serotonin (5-HT) system activity and the inclination to engage in social behaviors. It can also be attributed to the anxiolytic effects of sertraline treatment, which mitigate the fear of social judgment. The heightened behavioral engagement with information in people taking sertraline may, as part of a general phenomenon, also shape their interactions with fake news. Future longitudinal studies should reveal the specificity and exact causality of these interactions.

Date of online publication


Pages (from - to)

1515 - 1522




Ministry points / journal


Impact Factor

4,1 [List 2023]

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