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The application of emotions, sharing motivations, and psychological distance in examining the intention to share COVID-19-related fake news

Wee-Kheng Tan (Department of Information Management, National Sun Yat-sen University, Kaohsiung, Taiwan)
Chun Yu Hsu (Department of Information Management, National Sun Yat-sen University, Kaohsiung, Taiwan)

Online Information Review

ISSN: 1468-4527

Article publication date: 22 April 2022

Issue publication date: 18 January 2023

1112

Abstract

Purpose

Coronavirus disease 2019-related fake news consistently appears on social media. This study uses appraisal theory to analyze the impact of such rumors on individuals' emotions, motivations, and intentions to share fake news. Furthermore, the concept of psychological distance and construal level theory are used in combination with appraisal theory to compare toilet paper shortages and celebrity scandal rumors.

Design/methodology/approach

Data collected from 299 Taiwanese respondents to 150 toilet paper shortage-related and 149 celebrity gossip-related questionnaires were processed using partial least squares regression and multigroup analysis.

Findings

In both cases, surprise is felt most intensely. However, unlike in the celebrity fake news scenario, worry plays a prominent role in driving the altruistic sharing motivation related to the toilet paper shortage rumor. Furthermore, while emotional attributes (basic or self-conscious, concrete, or abstract) serve as a guide for how emotions change with psychological distance, the degree to which an emotion is relevant to the fake news context is key to its manifestation.

Originality/value

This study examines the impact of individuals' emotions on their motivations and intention to share fake news, applying the appraisal theory and the psychological distance concept in a single study to fake news sharing intention. It evaluates the relationship between psychological distance and emotions, revealing that it is not absolute and need not necessarily shift according to psychological distance change; rather, the relationship is context-sensitive.

Keywords

Citation

Tan, W.-K. and Hsu, C.Y. (2023), "The application of emotions, sharing motivations, and psychological distance in examining the intention to share COVID-19-related fake news", Online Information Review, Vol. 47 No. 1, pp. 59-80. https://doi.org/10.1108/OIR-08-2021-0448

Publisher

:

Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2022, Emerald Publishing Limited

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