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Fake news game confers psychological resistance against online misinformation

Jon Roozenbeek and Sander Linden ()
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Jon Roozenbeek: University of Cambridge
Sander Linden: University of Cambridge

Palgrave Communications, 2019, vol. 5, issue 1, 1-10

Abstract: Abstract The spread of online misinformation poses serious challenges to societies worldwide. In a novel attempt to address this issue, we designed a psychological intervention in the form of an online browser game. In the game, players take on the role of a fake news producer and learn to master six documented techniques commonly used in the production of misinformation: polarisation, invoking emotions, spreading conspiracy theories, trolling people online, deflecting blame, and impersonating fake accounts. The game draws on an inoculation metaphor, where preemptively exposing, warning, and familiarising people with the strategies used in the production of fake news helps confer cognitive immunity when exposed to real misinformation. We conducted a large-scale evaluation of the game with N = 15,000 participants in a pre-post gameplay design. We provide initial evidence that people’s ability to spot and resist misinformation improves after gameplay, irrespective of education, age, political ideology, and cognitive style.

Date: 2019
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