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      Fighting COVID-19 Misinformation on Social Media: Experimental Evidence for a Scalable Accuracy-Nudge Intervention


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          Across two studies with more than 1,700 U.S. adults recruited online, we present evidence that people share false claims about COVID-19 partly because they simply fail to think sufficiently about whether or not the content is accurate when deciding what to share. In Study 1, participants were far worse at discerning between true and false content when deciding what they would share on social media relative to when they were asked directly about accuracy. Furthermore, greater cognitive reflection and science knowledge were associated with stronger discernment. In Study 2, we found that a simple accuracy reminder at the beginning of the study (i.e., judging the accuracy of a non-COVID-19-related headline) nearly tripled the level of truth discernment in participants’ subsequent sharing intentions. Our results, which mirror those found previously for political fake news, suggest that nudging people to think about accuracy is a simple way to improve choices about what to share on social media.

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          Most cited references 26

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          Why do humans reason? Arguments for an argumentative theory.

          Reasoning is generally seen as a means to improve knowledge and make better decisions. However, much evidence shows that reasoning often leads to epistemic distortions and poor decisions. This suggests that the function of reasoning should be rethought. Our hypothesis is that the function of reasoning is argumentative. It is to devise and evaluate arguments intended to persuade. Reasoning so conceived is adaptive given the exceptional dependence of humans on communication and their vulnerability to misinformation. A wide range of evidence in the psychology of reasoning and decision making can be reinterpreted and better explained in the light of this hypothesis. Poor performance in standard reasoning tasks is explained by the lack of argumentative context. When the same problems are placed in a proper argumentative setting, people turn out to be skilled arguers. Skilled arguers, however, are not after the truth but after arguments supporting their views. This explains the notorious confirmation bias. This bias is apparent not only when people are actually arguing, but also when they are reasoning proactively from the perspective of having to defend their opinions. Reasoning so motivated can distort evaluations and attitudes and allow erroneous beliefs to persist. Proactively used reasoning also favors decisions that are easy to justify but not necessarily better. In all these instances traditionally described as failures or flaws, reasoning does exactly what can be expected of an argumentative device: Look for arguments that support a given conclusion, and, ceteris paribus, favor conclusions for which arguments can be found.
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            The Cognitive Reflection Test as a predictor of performance on heuristics-and-biases tasks.

            The Cognitive Reflection Test (CRT; Frederick, 2005) is designed to measure the tendency to override a prepotent response alternative that is incorrect and to engage in further reflection that leads to the correct response. In this study, we showed that the CRT is a more potent predictor of performance on a wide sample of tasks from the heuristics-and-biases literature than measures of cognitive ability, thinking dispositions, and executive functioning. Although the CRT has a substantial correlation with cognitive ability, a series of regression analyses indicated that the CRT was a unique predictor of performance on heuristics-and-biases tasks. It accounted for substantial additional variance after the other measures of individual differences had been statistically controlled. We conjecture that this is because neither intelligence tests nor measures of executive functioning assess the tendency toward miserly processing in the way that the CRT does. We argue that the CRT is a particularly potent measure of the tendency toward miserly processing because it is a performance measure rather than a self-report measure.
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              Separating the Shirkers from the Workers? Making Sure Respondents Pay Attention on Self-Administered Surveys


                Author and article information

                Psychol Sci
                Psychol Sci
                Psychological Science
                SAGE Publications (Sage CA: Los Angeles, CA )
                30 June 2020
                July 2020
                : 31
                : 7
                : 770-780
                [1 ]Paul J. Hill School of Business, University of Regina
                [2 ]Kenneth Levene Graduate School of Business, University of Regina
                [3 ]Department of Psychology, University of Regina
                [4 ]Sloan School of Management, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
                [5 ]Institute for Data, Systems, and Society, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
                [6 ]Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
                Author notes
                [*]Gordon Pennycook, University of Regina, Hill and Levene Schools of Business, 3737 Wascana Parkway, Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada, S4S 0A2 E-mail: gordon.pennycook@ 123456uregina.ca
                © The Author(s) 2020

                This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License ( https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/) which permits any use, reproduction and distribution of the work without further permission provided the original work is attributed as specified on the SAGE and Open Access page ( https://us.sagepub.com/en-us/nam/open-access-at-sage).

                Funded by: miami foundation, FundRef https://doi.org/10.13039/100015604;
                Funded by: William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, FundRef https://doi.org/10.13039/100004439;
                Funded by: Omidyar Network, ;
                Funded by: John Templeton Foundation, FundRef https://doi.org/10.13039/100000925;
                Funded by: Canadian Institutes of Health Research, FundRef https://doi.org/10.13039/501100000024;
                Funded by: Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, FundRef https://doi.org/10.13039/501100000155;
                Psychological Science in the Public Eye
                Research Article
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