Defense Against the Dark Arts: A Quantitative Study on Inoculation Communication Against Fake News Using Fake Authority
Sammanfattning: In a digital era, information has never traveled faster. However, the same goes for misinformation and fake news that during recent years has become an issue for societal fundamentals such as elections, public health, and trust in global governance. Prebunking, that stems from inoculation theory, is a forewarning against misinformation that counter misinformation before an individual has been exposed to it. This thesis compared the effects of inoculation messaging on two different COVID-19 misinformation contexts that vary in claimed authority, by measuring credibility, social media engagement, vaccine attitude, and vaccine intention. A scenario experiment was conducted through an online self-completion questionnaire that targeted Swedish young adults between the ages of 18-29. The respondents were randomly divided into two different contexts (non-authority vs. authority) where they were exposed to a fictive social media post that tried to spread fake news. Findings indicate that there were no significant differences between the groups in terms of credibility, social media engagement, vaccine attitude, or vaccine intention. However, higher conspiracy beliefs correlated positively with perceived credibility and the intention to like or share the post - and negatively with vaccine intention.
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