Susceptibility to misinformation is consistent across question framings and response modes and better explained by myside bias and partisanship than analytical thinking
Roozenbeek J., Maertens R., Herzog SM., Geers M., Kurvers R., Sultan M., van der Linden S.
Misinformation presents a significant societal problem. To measure individuals’ susceptibility to misinformation and study its predictors, researchers have used a broad variety of ad-hoc item sets, scales, question framings, and response modes. Because of this variety, it remains unknown whether results from different studies can be compared (e.g., in meta-analyses). In this preregistered study (US sample; N = 2,622), we compare five commonly used question framings (eliciting perceived headline accuracy, manipulativeness, reliability, trustworthiness, and whether a headline is real or fake) and three response modes (binary, 6-point and 7-point scales), using the psychometrically validated Misinformation Susceptibility Test (MIST). We test 1) whether different question framings and response modes yield similar responses for the same item set, 2) whether people’s confidence in their primary judgments is affected by question framings and response modes, and 3) which key psychological factors (myside bias, political partisanship, cognitive reflection, and numeracy skills) best predict misinformation susceptibility across assessment methods. Different response modes and question framings yield similar (but not identical) responses for both primary ratings and confidence judgments. We also find a similar nomological net across conditions, suggesting cross-study comparability. Finally, myside bias and political conservatism were strongly positively correlated with misinformation susceptibility, whereas numeracy skills and especially cognitive reflection were less important (although we note potential ceiling effects for numeracy). We thus find more support for an “integrative” account than a “classical reasoning” account of misinformation belief.