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The role of personality traits and the ability to detect fake news in predicting information avoidance during the COVID-19 pandemic

Mahdieh Mirzabeigi (Department of Knowledge and Information Science, Shiraz University, Shiraz, Islamic Republic of Iran)
Mahsa Torabi (Department of Knowledge and Information Science, Shiraz University, Shiraz, Islamic Republic of Iran)
Tahereh Jowkar (Department of Knowledge and Information Science, Shiraz University, Shiraz, Islamic Republic of Iran)

Library Hi Tech

ISSN: 0737-8831

Article publication date: 9 May 2023

279

Abstract

Purpose

The objective of this study was to investigate the impacts of personality traits and the ability to detect fake news on information avoidance behavior. It also examined the effect of personality traits on the ability to detect fake news.

Design/methodology/approach

The sample population included Shiraz University students who were studying in the second semester of academic year 2021 in different academic levels. It consisted of 242 students of Shiraz University. The Big Five theory was used as the theoretical background of the study. Moreover, the research instrument was an electronic questionnaire consisting of the three questionnaires of the ability to detect fake news (Esmaeili et al., 2019, inspired by IFLA, 2017), the Big Five personality traits (Goldberg, 1999) and information avoidance (Howell and Shepperd, 2016). The statistical methods used to analyze the data were Pearson correlation and stepwise regression, which were performed through SPSS software (version 26).

Findings

The results showed that from among the five main personality factors, only neuroticism had a positive and significant effect on information avoidance. In addition, the ability to detect fake news had a significant negative effect on information avoidance behavior. Further analyses also showed positive and significant effects of openness to experience and extraversion on the ability to detect fake news. In fact, the former had more predictive power.

Practical implications

Following the Big Five theory considering COVID-19 information avoidance and the ability to detect COVID-19 fake news, this study shifted the focus from environmental factors to personality factors and personality traits. Furthermore, this study introduced the ability to detect fake news as an influential factor in health information avoidance behaviors, which can be a prelude for new research studies.

Originality/value

The present study applied the five main personality factors theory in the context of information avoidance behavior and the ability to detect fake news, and supported the effect of personality traits on these variables.

Keywords

Citation

Mirzabeigi, M., Torabi, M. and Jowkar, T. (2023), "The role of personality traits and the ability to detect fake news in predicting information avoidance during the COVID-19 pandemic", Library Hi Tech, Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print. https://doi.org/10.1108/LHT-03-2022-0150

Publisher

:

Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2023, Emerald Publishing Limited

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