Putting the truth to the test in the “post-truth era,” psychologists at Boston College conducted experiments that showed when Americans decide whether a claim of truth should be qualified as true or false, they consider the purposes of the information source, the group reported recently on Scientific reports.
That trust is based on what individuals think the source is trying to do—in this case inform or mislead their audience.
“Although people know how accurate or inaccurate a truth claim is, whether they consider the claim to be true or false depends on the goals they attribute to the source of the information. -claim,” said Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience Liane Young, an author. in the report. “In other words, the intentions of information sources drive people’s judgments about what information should qualify as true.”
Lead author Isaac Handley-Miner, a Ph.D. student and researcher at Young’s Morality Lab, said the so-called post-truth era reveals a strong misunderstanding of the truth of truth claims—even claims that are easy to verify.
“That misunderstanding is alarming to our society,” Handley-Miner said. “After all, it is often assumed that the labels ‘true’ and ‘false’ should correspond to the objective accuracy of a claim.
“Or, even if people know how accurate a given truth claim is, can they be sensitive to features of the social context—such as the intentions of the information source? We begin to test whether the intentions of information sources affect whether people consider a truth claim to be true or false regardless of whether they have access to the actual truth.”
The researchers showed participants a series of claims accompanied by ground truth related to the claims, according to the report. In one experiment, claims related to political topics such as climate change, abortion, and gun violence. In another experiment, these claims concerned non-political topics such as the average lifespan of a car and the price of a pair of headphones. The researchers asked participants in two experiments to decide whether they would consider each truth claim to be true or false.
When presented with a truth claim, study participants were presented with one of two scenarios about the source of the information they were investigating: the source of the information wanted to deceive or inform them. To do this, the researchers bought the news outlet that allegedly published the claim. For example, one participant may be told that a claim about climate change is from Fox News, while another participant may be told that the same claim about climate change is from MSNBC. , Handley-Miner said.
In experiments with claims about non-political topics, researchers told participants whether the source of the information was trying to be informative or misleading, he said.
“We present participants with truth claims and make sure that participants know how accurate or inaccurate the claims are,” Handley-Miner said. “Across all participants, we varied whether the source of the claims was intended to inform or mislead their audience. Participants reported whether they would consider the claims to be true or false given the given facts. as true when the source of the information is trying to inform against deceiving their listeners.”
The researchers worked with 1,181 participants and analyzed approximately 16,200 responses posted during their experiments.
Even when participants knew exactly how accurate the claims were, participants classified the claims as more false when they judged the source of the information as trying to deceive them.
Similarly, they classified claims more often when they judged the source of the information as seeking to provide an approximate account rather than an accurate one, according to the study. For example, what if someone knows that 114 people attended an event, but one source reports that 109 people attended, and another source reports that 100 attended? An individual is more likely to view the latter number as the truth because it is assumed that the source is providing an estimate, Young said.
The findings suggest that, even when people have access to the same set of facts, they may disagree about the truth of the claims if they attribute inconsistent intentions to the information sources.
The results show that people are not only sensitive to the objective accuracy of truth claims when they are classified as true or false. While this study focused on the intention of the information source, Young and Handley-Miner say that intention may not be the only other feature that people use to evaluate truth.
In future work, the researchers hope to develop an expanded understanding of how people think about reality. In addition, due to the increasing popularity of Artificial Intelligence models, such as ChatGPT, researchers can investigate whether state-of-the-art AI models “think” about reality in the same way. of people, or if these models only care about the objective accuracy of the evaluation. truth.
Isaac J. Handley-Miner et al, The intentions of information sources can affect the information people think is qualified as true, Scientific reports (2023). DOI: 10.1038/s41598-023-34806-4
Given by Boston College
Citation: Study shows that information source’s intentions can affect what Americans think is qualified as real (2023, July 17) retrieved 17 July 2023 from https://phys.org/news/2023-07- intentions-source-affect-americans-true. html
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