FRIDAY, May 6, 2022 (HealthDay News) – Older adults are less likely to believe fake news than younger adults, excluding most adults, a new study has found.
Falling for fake news can have significant physical, emotional and financial consequences, especially for older adults who may be at risk of life-saving or serious medical problems, the researchers said.
“We wanted to see if there was an age difference in determining whether news was true or false,” said lead author Didem Pehlivanoglu, a postdoctoral researcher in psychology at the University of Florida in Gainesville.
“We especially wanted to see this because we know that with aging, most people show a slight decrease in their cognitive ability. But we also know that some data-processing abilities are preserved or even improved,” Pehlivanoglu said in a university press release.
The study was conducted between May and October 2020 It included a group of adults aged 61 to 87 and a group of college students Participants were asked to read and evaluate 12 full-length news articles on COVID-19 and non-COVID topics. Some articles were original and some were fake.
According to the survey, adults and young adults had similar levels of ability to detect fake news. The results were released online on May 2 Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied.
Both groups were less likely to detect fake news about COVID-19 than non-epidemic news. This may be due to poor exposure to COVID-related data in the early months of the epidemic, researchers suggest.
Brian Cahill, a professor of psychology at the University of Florida and co-author of the study, said: “People have the idea that older adults are going to perform worse than younger adults across the board, but that's not the case.”
Studies have shown that adults over the age of 70 are less likely to spread fake news about COVID-19 or other topics. But that's probably because they didn't look closely at the information or pay attention to the details, the study authors added.
It is only at a very late age – when the loss of thinking ability can no longer be offset by life experience and world knowledge – that people may be particularly at risk for fake news and other misinformation, the researchers noted.
“This is a particularly high-risk population that has a high risk of making wrong decisions, not just for themselves, but for society as well,” said Natalie Ibner, a co-author of the study and professor of psychology at the university.
The Stanford Center on LongAVT has much more on digital literacy for older adults.
Source: University of Florida, Press Release, May 2, 2022