What is it about?

This research investigated two distinct aspects of misinformation susceptibility: (1) the ability to accurately distinguish between true and false information (truth sensitivity) and (2) the tendency to accept information that is congruent with one’s ideological beliefs and dismiss information that is incongruent with one’s ideological beliefs (partisan bias). Although participants were able to distinguish between true and false information to a considerable extent, sharing decisions were largely unaffected by actual information veracity. A strong partisan bias emerged for both veracity judgments and sharing decisions, with partisan bias being unrelated to the overall degree of truth sensitivity. While truth sensitivity increased as a function of cognitive reflection during encoding, partisan bias increased as a function of subjective confidence. Truth sensitivity and partisan bias were both associated with misinformation susceptibility, but partisan bias was a stronger and more reliable predictor of misinformation susceptibility than truth sensitivity.

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Why is it important?

Misinformation represents one of the greatest challenges for the functioning of societies in the information age. The studies indicate that truth insensitivity and partisan bias independently contribute to misinformation susceptibility. These findings suggests that interventions to reduce misinformation susceptibility should adopt a multi-faceted approach targeting both factors.


The most interesting insight for us was that "feeling good about oneself" does not reduce susceptibility to misinformation, as we initially expected based on theories of motivated reasoning. Instead, the biggest obstacle was overconfidence, which suggests that intellectual humility might offer the greatest protection against misinformation.

Bertram Gawronski
University of Texas at Austin

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Truth sensitivity and partisan bias in responses to misinformation., Journal of Experimental Psychology General, March 2023, American Psychological Association (APA), DOI: 10.1037/xge0001381.
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