University of Twente Student Theses


Information processing and the ability to detect online misinformation about climate change

Ostermann, L. M. (2019) Information processing and the ability to detect online misinformation about climate change.

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Abstract:Online misinformation is a phenomenon that emerged in around the middle of this decade. It is not only used for political or financial gain, but also targets scientific topics such as climate change. This poses a threat to the scientific consensus as this online misinformation evokes distrust in scientific institutions and it also strives to politicise this scientific topic. Literature has suggested that individual factors such as information processing determine an individual's likelihood to endorse or detect fake news. It was hypothesised that a heuristic information processing style relates to inability to detect fake news, whereas a systematic information processing style relates to the opposite. In this correlational survey research, 107 people mainly from Germany and the Netherlands participated. They filled in an online questionnaire which measured the aforementioned information processing styles. They were then asked to rate the message credibility of both two real online news stimuli, and two fake online news stimuli which reported or misinformed about the topic of climate change. The results delivered no evidence for both hypotheses. These results are discussed at the end of this paper alongside the shortcomings of this study and subsequent recommendations for future research.
Item Type:Essay (Bachelor)
Faculty:BMS: Behavioural, Management and Social Sciences
Subject:77 psychology
Programme:Psychology BSc (56604)
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