The role of analytical reasoning and source credibility on the evaluation of real and fake full-length news articles

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Abstract

Aim: Previous research has focused on accuracy associated with real and fake news presented in the form of news headlines only, which does not capture the rich context news is frequently encountered in real life. Additionally, while previous studies on evaluation of real and fake news have mostly focused on characteristics of the evaluator (i.e., analytical reasoning), characteristics of the news stimuli (i.e., news source credibility) and the interplay between the two have been largely ignored. To address these research gaps, this project examined the role of analytical reasoning and news source credibility on evaluation of real and fake full-length news story articles. The project considered both accuracy and perceived credibility ratings as outcome variables, thus qualifying previous work focused solely on news detection accuracy. Method: We conducted two independent but parallel studies, with Study 2 as a direct replication of Study 1, employing the same design but in a larger sample (Study 1: N = 292 vs. Study 2: N = 357). In both studies, participants viewed 12 full-length news articles (6 real, 6 fake), followed by prompts to evaluate each article’s veracity and credibility. Participants were randomly assigned to view articles with a credible or non-credible source and completed the Cognitive Reflection Test as well as short demographic questions. Findings: Consistent across both studies, higher analytical reasoning was associated with greater fake news accuracy, while analytical reasoning was not associated with real news accuracy. In addition, in both studies, higher analytical reasoning was associated with lower perceived credibility for fake news, while analytical reasoning was not associated with perceived credibility for real news. Furthermore, lower analytical reasoning was associated with greater accuracy for real (but not fake) news from credible compared to non-credible sources, with this effect only detected in Study 2. Conclusions: The novel results generated in this research are discussed in light of classical vs. naturalistic accounts of decision-making as well as cognitive processes underlying news articles evaluation. The results extend previous findings that analytical reasoning contributes to fake news detection to full-length news articles. Furthermore, news-related cues such as the credibility of the news source systematically affected discrimination ability between real and fake news.

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APA

Pehlivanoglu, D., Lin, T., Deceus, F., Heemskerk, A., Ebner, N. C., & Cahill, B. S. (2021). The role of analytical reasoning and source credibility on the evaluation of real and fake full-length news articles. Cognitive Research: Principles and Implications, 6(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/s41235-021-00292-3

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