Episode 29: Why do people share false information — and what can we do about it?

This is Episode 29 of PsychCrunch, the podcast from the British Psychological Society’s Research Digest, sponsored by Routledge Psychology. Download here.

Why do people share false information? In this episode, our presenters Ginny Smith and Jon Sutton explore the psychology of misinformation. They hear about the factors that make people more or less likely to share misinformation, discuss strategies to correct false information, and learn how to talk to someone who is promoting conspiracy theories.

Our guests, in order of appearance, are Tom Buchanan, Professor of Psychology at the University of Westminster, and Briony Swire-Thompson, senior research scientist at Northeastern University’s Network Science Institute.

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Episode credits: Presented and produced by Ginny Smith, with additional reporting by Jon Sutton. Script edits by Matthew Warren. Mixing and editing by Jeff Knowler. PsychCrunch theme music by Catherine Loveday and Jeff Knowler. Art work by Tim Grimshaw.

Relevant research from our guests includes:

Why do people spread false information online? The effects of message and viewer characteristics on self-reported likelihood of sharing social media disinformation.

Spreading Disinformation on Facebook: Do Trust in Message Source, Risk Propensity, or Personality Affect the Organic Reach of “Fake News”?

Predictors of likelihood of sharing disinformation on social media 2019-2020

Correction format has a limited role when debunking misinformation

Backfire effects after correcting misinformation are strongly associated with reliability

Public Health and Online Misinformation: Challenges and Recommendations

Further background reading:

Jon Sutton’s full interview with Professor Tom Buchanan is available at The Psychologist

Read Emily Reynolds’ feature on how to talk to a loved one who believes in conspiracy theories, mentioned in this episode

Other Research Digest stories on misinformation and conspiracy theories include:

PsychCrunch is sponsored by Routledge Psychology

Routledge Psychology are giving PsychCrunch listeners the chance to discover even more ground-breaking research: free access to 5 articles of your choosing from over 4.5 million at tandfonline.com, plus a 20% discount on books at routledge.com.

For links to all our previous podcasts, check out our main podcast page