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Americans share fake news to fit in with social circles

  • Journalism and Facts
  • Social Media and Internet
  • Politics

Fear of exclusion contributes to spread of fake news, research finds

Read the journal article

  • Tribalism and Tribulations (PDF, 495KB)

WASHINGTON — Both conservative and liberal Americans share fake news because they don’t want to be ostracized from their social circles, according to research published by the American Psychological Association.

“Conformity and social pressure are key motivators of the spread of fake news,” said lead researcher Matthew Asher Lawson, PhD, an assistant professor of decision sciences at INSEAD, a business school in France. “If someone in your online tribe is sharing fake news, then you feel pressure to share it as well, even if you don’t know whether it’s false or true.”

The research was published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: General.

The proliferation of fake news contributes to increasing political polarization and distrust of democratic institutions, according to the Brookings Institution. But fake news doesn’t always proliferate due to dark motives or a call for action. The researchers began studying the issue after noticing people in their own social networks sharing fake news seemingly without malicious intent or ideological purpose.

“Political ideology alone doesn’t explain people’s tendency to share fake news within their social groups,” Lawson said. “There are many factors at play, including the very basic desire to fit in and not to be excluded.”

One experiment analyzed the tweets and political ideology of more than 50,000 pairs of Twitter users in the U.S., including tweets sharing fake or hyper-partisan news between August and December 2020. (Political ideology was determined through a network-based algorithm that imputes ideology by looking at the types of accounts Twitter users follow.) The number of tweets between pairs of Twitter users in the same social circles were measured. Twitter users were less likely to interact with each other over time if one of them shared a fake news story and the other did not share that same story. The same effect was found regardless of political ideology but was stronger for more right-leaning participants.

A second experiment analyzed 10,000 Twitter users who had shared fake news in the prior test, along with another group that was representative of Twitter users in general. Twitter users who had shared fake news were more likely to exclude other users who didn’t share the same content, suggesting that social pressures may be particularly acute in the fake news ecosystem.

Across several additional online experiments, participants indicated a reduced desire to interact with social connections who failed to share the same fake news. Participants who were more concerned about the social costs of not fitting in were also more likely to share fake news.

While fake news may seem prolific, prior research has found that fake news only accounts for 0.15% of Americans’ daily media consumption, and 1% of individuals are responsible for 80% of fake news sharing. Other research found that election-related misinformation on Twitter decreased by 73% after Donald Trump was banned from the platform.

Many complex factors contribute to people’s decisions to share fake news so reducing its spread is difficult, and the role of social media companies isn’t always clear, Lawson said.

“Pre-bunking” methods that inform people about the ways that misinformation spreads and highlighting the importance of the accuracy of news can help reduce the spread of fake news. However, finding ways to ease the social pressure to conform in online spaces may be needed to start winning the war on misinformation, Lawson said.

Article: “Tribalism and Tribulations: The Social Costs of Not Sharing Fake News,” Matthew Asher Lawson, PhD, INSEAD, Shikhar Anand, Indian Institute of Technology Delhi, and Hemant Kakkar, PhD, Duke University, Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, published online March 9, 2023.

How To Keep Yourself Healthy In The Winter

Published on 12/05/2019
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Keeping yourself happy and healthy is important 12 months out of the year, but it becomes a bit more challenging to keep up with normal health routines around the holiday season, especially if you live somewhere that gets cold and gloomy throughout the few winter months. You can’t go out as often because of the weather, and it seems to constantly be dark outside. All of these difficulties add up quickly to create a hard time from November through February. We’re here to give you some tips on how to make these months a little less stressful on your everyday lifestyle.

How To Keep Yourself Healthy In The Winter

Eat Even More Fruits And Vegetables Than Normal

In the winter months it can be very easy to use the holidays as an excuse to forget about your healthy eating habits and eat all of the cookies and mashed potatoes that come your way, but we promise you will feel much better if you are more conscious about how many fruits and vegetables you eat throughout the day as well. Of course, eating sweets and unhealthy foods is perfectly okay, but don’t let that become the staple of your diet. Many people forget that their health is still on the line when it’s holiday time, but don’t let yourself become one of those people. Incorporating fruits and vegetables into food items at the dinner table, like eating a side of carrots or broccoli with your mashed potatoes, can be a good way to get the best of both worlds this season.

Take Vitamin D Supplements

Vitamin D is one of the vitamins that is less-frequently spoken about but needs to receive just as much attention as anything else. Vitamin D is produced naturally by your body when your skin interacts with the sun, which is why people who live in climates that get cold tend to become vitamin D deficient when it’s winter. When you interact with the sun, your body produces vitamin D which has many health benefits, including strong bones and a rockstar immune system. Vitamin D deficiencies can make you feel weak and fatigued, and that is the last thing you want during the winter when you already just want to stay inside and sit by the fire all day.

Don’t Become A Couch Potato

Despite the fact that the air is frigid and the ground is full of snow or ice, try to do one thing every day that will get you up onto your feet and moving around. Instead of spending your whole weekend in bed, try to go to sleep and wake up at the same time each day; this will help your body keep up with its routine of getting up and doing something as you would during the week. Whether it’s taking up winter sports, taking a brisk walk around the block, or just going to the grocery store and back, getting outside and doing something– and seeing the natural sunlight– will do wonders for both your physical and mental health.

high calcium foods to nourish bones and promote good health:

Calcium is an essential mineral that plays a vital role in maintaining strong bones and teeth, muscle function, nerve transmission, and other important bodily functions. However, many people do not consume enough calcium in their diet, which can lead to a variety of health problems, including osteoporosis, a condition that weakens bones and increases the risk of fractures. Fortunately, there are many high calcium foods that can help you meet your daily calcium needs and support healthy bones and overall health.

Dairy products are the most well-known source of calcium. Milk, cheese, and yogurt are all excellent sources of calcium and other important nutrients like vitamin D, which helps the body absorb and use calcium. However, some people may be lactose intolerant or have a milk allergy, which can make it difficult to consume dairy products. If you are unable to consume dairy, there are other high calcium foods you can incorporate into your diet.

Leafy greens like spinach, kale, and collard greens are another excellent source of calcium. These greens are also high in other important nutrients like vitamin K, which plays a role in bone health by helping the body use calcium. In addition to calcium and vitamin K, leafy greens are also rich in antioxidants, fiber, and other vitamins and minerals that are essential for good health.

Nuts and seeds are another great source of calcium. Almonds are one of the best sources of calcium among nuts, with one ounce providing about 8% of the daily recommended intake. Sesame seeds and chia seeds are also high in calcium and can be easily incorporated into your diet. Additionally, nuts and seeds are a great source of healthy fats, fiber, and protein, making them a great snack option.

Tofu is a plant-based protein source that is also high in calcium. Made from soybeans, tofu is a popular ingredient in many vegetarian and vegan dishes. Half a cup of tofu provides about 20% of the daily recommended intake of calcium. Additionally, tofu is a good source of protein and other important nutrients like iron and magnesium.

Finally, there are many fortified foods that can help you meet your daily calcium needs. Fortified foods are foods that have had extra nutrients added to them, such as calcium, to make them more nutritious. Breakfast cereals, plant-based milks like almond milk and soy milk, and orange juice are all common sources of calcium-fortified foods. However, it's important to read the labels carefully, as not all fortified foods are created equal. Some fortified foods may be high in added sugars or other unhealthy ingredients, so it's important to choose wisely.

In conclusion, incorporating high calcium foods into your diet can help you meet your daily calcium needs and support healthy bones and overall health. Dairy products, leafy greens, nuts and seeds, tofu, and fortified foods are all excellent sources of calcium that can be easily incorporated into your meals and snacks. By eating a varied and balanced diet that includes plenty of high calcium foods, you can support strong bones, healthy muscles, and overall wellbeing.