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12.06.2023

News

How do emotions affect climate change misinformation?

Hannah Metzler, a neuroscientist and psychologist at the Complexity Science Hub, recently contributed to a Stockholm Resilience Center report on climate misinformation. In a chapter, she discusses the role of emotions in spreading misinformation online about climate change.

People are not per se more susceptible to false news when they’re emotional, according to Metzler. “Strong emotions do not automatically mean people will believe a message and continue to share it. That people judge new information based on trust in sources, and their knowledge about the world, means that good arguments, education, and science communication are not futile.”

As Metzler points out, there are ways to reduce misinformation’s spread. Redesigning platforms would allow nuanced majorities and overlap in views of different groups to be more apparent. A redesign of social media algorithms might also be an option.

In her research, Metzler applies methods like text analysis and machine learning to capture digital traces of emotions, to investigate their validity, as well as their effects on misinformation spreading on social media.

Read her chapter in the report: https://shorturl.at/ACNQU

Social networks are designed to appeal to our emotions. Education, however, is not in vain, according to CSH scientist Hannah Metzler.

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