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Stumble on information or misinformation? Examining the interplay of incidental news exposure, narcissism, and new media literacy in misinformation engagement

Xizhu Xiao (Qingdao University, Qingdao, China)
Yan Su (Peking University, Beijing, China)

Internet Research

ISSN: 1066-2243

Article publication date: 25 August 2022

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Abstract

Purpose

In the current media landscape where misinformation circulation becomes a primary threat to public health and society's intellectual well-being, incidental news exposure's role in influencing misperceptions and misinformation engagement remains under-explored. Moreover, less is known regarding how and to what extent personal factors such as personality and media literacy may drive the sharing of misinformation.

Design/methodology/approach

Under the theoretical guidance of the stimulus-organism-response (S-O-R) model, the authors surveyed 546 college students aged 18 and above to explore the relationship between incidental news exposure and misinformation sharing.

Findings

Findings buttressed the hypothesized relationship built on the S-O-R model and revealed a path from incidental online news exposure to misinformation sharing, mediated by misperceptions. The mediated path was further moderated by narcissism and media literacy. Specifically, narcissists have higher misperceptions when they encounter online news more often; higher misperceptions in turn give rise to greater misinformation sharing behaviors. The ability to critically consume new media information only decreases misinformation sharing behavior for narcissists with lower misperceptions.

Originality/value

Guided by the S-O-R framework, this study takes the first step in examining the link between incidental news exposure and misinformation sharing and accounts for the moderating influences of personality and media literacy factors. Findings provide a theoretical foundation and practical implications for future interventions to combat misinformation.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

Ethics approval: The questionnaire and methodology for this study was approved by the Institutional Review Board (IRB) committee of the Washington State University.

Informed Consent: Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.

Data availability statement: The data that support the findings of this study are available from the corresponding author upon reasonable request.

Conference proceeding acknowledgment: The current study was developed upon the following conference proceeding: Xiao, X. and Su, Y. (2022), “The dark side and silver lining in the misinformation era: Examining the interplay of news exposure, personality, and media literacy”, paper presented at the 72nd Annual International Communication Association Conference (ICA), 26 May-30 May, Paris, France.

Funding: The author(s) received no financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article.

Declaration of conflicting interests: The author(s) declared no potential conflicts of interest with respect to the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article.

Citation

Xiao, X. and Su, Y. (2022), "Stumble on information or misinformation? Examining the interplay of incidental news exposure, narcissism, and new media literacy in misinformation engagement", Internet Research, Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print. https://doi.org/10.1108/INTR-10-2021-0791

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2022, Emerald Publishing Limited

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