The human race is unique from any other species on this planet due to our higher cognitive thinking. However, sometimes it is our big hearts that gets in the way of our big brains. Have you ever heard a story from someone and it made you so mad but later you found out that the details were inaccurate, and had you known the real chain of events you would have felt or acted differently. And maybe you had already repeated the false narrative to two or three others?
Coming from a small town I can tell you a good story can really take on a life of its own. I remember I was working as a cashier and old school friends would come through my line and ask how I was doing. Once a former grade school friend came through my line and asked a very bizarre question. “How are you, I heard you were pregnant.” As this was not even a possibility at the time I could not even fathom how that story got started. The one positive to social media now is if you are friends with someone they hear first hand what is new in your life, and they are aware that others that are also your friend also have firsthand ability to scroll through your feed and see if something is true or not. This has certainly changed gossip in my small town.
Studies show that a story that illicit’s an emotional response, even if the story is false, is believed. This is likely due to the typical independent western attribution error thinking. If we hear something negative about someone we naturally attribute it to an internal explanation. We often do not get the full story behind a big news event and therefore we make an emotional decision based on reported characteristics of someone. But what we cannot see the external factors or life events that led to the action or mood of the individual at the time they became a news story.
False News has really been put under the microscope these past few years. We naturally depend on our news sources to report the news. The news is supposed to be a first hand accounting of events going on in the world. But how often have news sources been wrong? And how deep do we usually dive to find out if the stories that most effect us are true. How many of us only watch one news source even if it is clearly biased. If you are strong left or right than it makes sense that you are comfortable listening to news and media outlets that align with your values. However if you consider yourself a moderate or middle of the road than how often do you challenge your viewing habits or news sources?
Baum Julia, Rabovsky Milena, Rose Sebastian Benjamin, Abdel Rahman Rasha, Clear Judgement Based on Unclear Evidence: Person evaluation is strongly influenced by untrustworthy gossip. Volume 20 Issue 2 (March 2020) 248-260
Grady Rebecca Hofstein. Examining, Correcting, and Failing to Correct Politically Biased Judgements and Momories in Real-World Contexts. University of California, Irvine, ProQuest Information and learning 2020