Think Before You Share: Beliefs and Emotions that Shaped COVID-19 (Mis)information Vetting and Sharing Intentions among WhatsApp Users in the United Kingdom

Telematics and Informatics, 67, 101750. doi: 10.1016/j.tele.2021.101750

Abstract: This study examined how individuals’ emotional and cognitive responses to different shades of truth embedded in health crisis (mis)information (i.e., full falsity vs. partial falsity vs. full truth) might predict their information vetting and sharing intentions on social media. In the context of COVID-19 and based on an online survey of 725 UK WhatsApp users, the key findings of our study include: 1) Various shades of truth in provided COVID-19 information directly triggered participants’ sense of hope and influenced their intentions to vet and share the (mis)information they read; 2) Hope, confusion, and misinformation belief functioned as affective  and cognitive predictors for whether and how individuals intended to share the (mis)information with immediate family members and strangers in their social networks. Multi-group mediation models further revealed the critical role hope played in evoking other emotions (i.e., confusion and anxiety) and forming misinformation belief, which in turn, led to varied (mis)information vetting and sharing behavioral intentions.

 

Yan Jin  Xuerong Lu 

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