Testing the cognitive involvement hypothesis on social media: 'News finds me' perceptions, partisanship, and fake news credibility

Trevor Diehl, Sangwon Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Social media has been implicated in the proliferation of fabricated news narratives posing as professional journalism. In response, scholars have prioritized the study of the antecedents and outcomes of citizen's ability to detect so-called ‘fake news’. Growing evidence supports the cognitive involvement hypothesis, which states that deeper reflection and elaboration on news content increases one's tendency to correctly identify fake news. This study adds to this literature by exploring connections between reliance on social media for news and emergent scholarship on the News Finds Me Perception (NFMP). We argue that the NFMP represents a low-effort cognitive style of attention to news and therefore, high NFMP respondents are more likely to evaluate fake news as credible. Furthermore, we examine whether this association holds despite partisan affiliation. Panel survey data from the United States provide robust evidence that the NFMP is associated with inaccurate assessments of both apolitical and pro-conservative fake news stories. Moderation analyses show that NFMP is a boundary condition for media effects; reliance on social media for news only leads to fake news acceptance when people hold the NFMP, and this effect exacerbates partisan motivated reasoning. Implications for theory building are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Article number107121
JournalComputers in Human Behavior
Volume128
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 2022

Keywords

  • Cognitive elaboration
  • Fake news
  • Heuristics
  • News credibility
  • News finds me perception
  • Partisan motivated reasoning
  • Social media

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