Script & Editorial Inputs: Kritika Goel
Video Editor: Vivek Gupta
Our emotions often come in the way of what we believe in and how we react. But do our emotions make us susceptible to mis/disinformation online?
Very often we feel angry, happy, sad, or even anxious after seeing some post or information, and these emotions might have played a deciding factor in whether:
We believe it
Further share it
For example: You watch a video online which shows a group of girls and boys celebrating. But the caption suggests that the boys, who have been identified as Muslims, spiked the girls’ drinks. It also suggests that they will make objectionable videos of the girls afterwards.
The caption, which is clearly communal and provocative in nature, might make you feel angry, and drive you to instantly share the video with others, without verifying whether such an incident happened or not.
Here, your anger might have been a deciding factor.
But the truth is that this video was a scripted one, which was being shared with a false communal claim. (You can read our fact-check here)
Misinformation and its 'Extreme Emotional Language'
One thing that you will notice is that online misinformation often has over the top and extreme emotional language.
In fact, research has shown that increased emotions — both negative and positive — make us vulnerable to misinformation.
Even some negative emotions, which tend to promote scepticism, may lead to people believing in conspiracy theories.
Remember the theory that the world will end in 2012? Well, that did not happen! But people certainly believed it.
The impact of misinformation, however, might not be the same when people experience certain emotions like ‘alertness’, ‘being attentive’, ‘determined’, which are more closely associated with critical thinking.
Psychologists also believe that it might become difficult for people to ignore information that has a bearing on their emotions.
Of course, there are a number of other reasons that play a role when we believe something, like our biases, trust on the sender or source of the information, but emotions also play a deciding factor.
(This is the second video of a series titled 'Verify Kiya Kya?' exploring the nuances of fact-checking and media literacy. In the next video we will touch upon video verification. Stay tuned!)
(Not convinced of a post or information you came across online and want it verified? Send us the details on WhatsApp at 9643651818, or e-mail it to us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we'll fact-check it for you. You can also read all our fact-checked stories here.)