Media outlets, social critics, political organizations, and research groups have identified the problem of “fake news” as a critical contemporary concern. Fake news is false or made-up information that is presented to convince people of the validity of an idea in the face of a lack of true evidence for the idea—or even of evidence against it. Exposure to inaccurate information of this sort can lead to confusion about what is true, endorsement of incorrect ideas, and a willingness to share the inaccurate information. These risks, and potential strategies for mitigating those risks, can be explained in terms of cognitive processes associated with perception, comprehension, memory, decision-making, language processing, and problem-solving. Of course, social, communicative, and technological factors also moderate effects of fake news.
This special issue highlights work that (a) identifies cognitive processes implicated in the detection and effects of fake news, (b) characterizes the consequences of fake news exposure across people’s diverse discourse experiences, and (c) identifies potential interventions that can help people overcome the allure of fake news. The overall goal is to develop accounts of when and why fake news informs people’s thoughts and behaviors, with specific attention to relevant cognitive and behavioral mechanisms.
- David N. Rapp
- Holly A. Taylor
- Jeffrey M. Zacks
This collection of articles has not been sponsored and articles have undergone the journal’s standard peer-review process. The Guest Editors declare no competing interests.