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'It's not literally true, but you get the gist': How nuanced understandings of truth encourage people to condone and spread misinformation

Journal

Current Opinion in Psychology

Subject

Organisational Behaviour

Authors / Editors

Langdon J A;Helgason B A;Qiu J;Effron D A

Biographies

Publication Year

2024

Abstract

People have a more-nuanced view of misinformation than the binary distinction between “fake news” and “real news” implies. We distinguish between the truth of a statement’s verbatim details (i.e., the specific, literal information) and its gist (i.e., the general, overarching meaning), and suggest that people tolerate and intentionally spread misinformation in part because they believe its gist. That is, even when they recognize a claim as literally false, they may judge it as morally acceptable to spread because they believe it is true “in spirit.” Prior knowledge, partisanship, and imagination increase belief in the gist. We argue that partisan conflict about the morality of spreading misinformation hinges on disagreements not only about facts but also about gists.

Keywords

Misinformation; Fake news; Morality; Fuzzy-trace theory; Gist; Verbatim; Partisan politics

Available on ECCH

No


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