Emotional Misinformation – The Interplay of Emotion and Misinformation spreading on social media


The spread of misinformation via social media threatens trust in science and democracy, thereby negatively impacting public health and social conflict. Because emotions influence how we perceive and think, they also influence how misinformation spreads. This is particularly evident in times of great uncertainty. In this project, we investigate whether emotions make us more susceptible to believing and spreading misinformation, and what means could be used to counteract this. We analyze how emotional misinformation spreads on social media and experimentally test which emotion regulation strategies could curb its spread. Based on these results, we finally develop a computer model with which we can use simulation experiments to investigate which interventions in social networks might work best. We also simulate how algorithms that favor emotional content influence the spread of misinformation on social media. This project provides a new perspective on the spread of misinformation by focusing on emotional influences on attention and behavior. The results will help adapt information and communication technologies in the future to better suit the way people process information.


01.12.2021 – 
Hannah Metzler, researcher at the Complexity Science Hub © Verena Ahne

Hannah Metzler

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University of Vienna
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