In the News: Identifying fake news requires actively open-minded thinking

June 20, 2023 | Hamilton, ON
Contributed by The Suburban

Social media on display with fake news and hoax information. Searching on tablet, pad, phone or smartphone screen in hand. Abstract concept of news titles broadcasting 3d illustration.

The spread of fake news over social media networks is often described as a threat to democracy, one that has corroded our faith in our institutions and deepened divisions within societies. But why are so many people quick to believe it?

A new paper led by a Concordia researcher and published in the Journal Information & Management provides insight into why people fail to identify fake news and offers a potential method to help them detect it.

The study’s authors are Mahdi Mirhoseini, an assistant professor in the Department of Supply Chain and Business Technology Management at the John Molson School of Business, and his co-authors Spencer Early, Nour El Shamy and Khaled Hassanein from McMaster University. They write that people who display what is known as actively open-minded thinking (AOT) — that is, actively seeking out information that may contradict one’s pre-existing beliefs — are more likely to correctly identify a fake headline. They also note that showing people that they are falling for fake news helps them avoid it in the future.

“We wanted to compare two sometimes competing theories that explain why people believe fake information,” Mirhoseini says. “The first is classical reasoning, which says that people who think critically will eventually arrive at the truth. The second is motivated reasoning, which says that people will remain agents of their ideology no matter how much cognitive effort they spend. They will justify the evidence based on a way that is consistent with their ideology.”

Read the full article published in The Suburban.

Khaled Hassanein

Dean, DeGroote School of Business
Professor, Information Systems

Dr. Khaled Hassanein began his term as dean of the DeGroote School of Business at McMaster University July 1, 2021. He is a professor of information systems and the past associate dean of graduate studies and research for the School. Between 2017 and 2021, he served as the director of the McMaster Digital Transformation Research Centre, and McMaster’s SSHRC Leader. His interdisciplinary research spans the areas of digital transformation, data analytics, e-Health, artificial intelligence, decision support systems, and neuro-information systems. His research is supported through funding from federal (SSHRC, NSERC, CFI), provincial (ORDCF, ORF-MRI) and private sector sources. He has published over 130 peer-reviewed articles in leading journals and conferences and has received thousands of citations.

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