2022 Undergraduate Research Showcase


Message and Audience Factors That Trigger Fake News Consumption

Document Type

Student Presentation

Presentation Date


Faculty Sponsor

Dr. Iryna Babik


Previous research suggests that the efficacy of persuasive arguments, in part, relies on an audience’s peripheral route processing (PRP). In modernity, the increased online platforming of news media has created an information overload in which peripheral route processing is inherently triggered. Additionally, previous research suggested there has been an increased reliance on partisan news. Given this, information can be structured to either encourage PRP or encourage central route processing (CRP), which promotes more critical engagement. Messages may use specific diction and grammatical structures to encourage PRP by evoking audience bias and heuristic processing. Additionally, PRP triggers are associated with an audience’s perception of increased source credibility. These rudimentary triggers, when expanded within a coherent structure, can be used to create rhetorically effective associative networks that pertain to an audience’s values (i.e., moral fields). However, these message factors interact with audience factors. Previous findings suggested the propensity for engaging with CRP or PRP relates to personality traits as well as the level of media-platform knowledge. Also, in-person political messaging has been found to vary in linguistic complexity related to the speaker’s political orientation. Thus, linguistic complexity in online political messaging may be associated with the persuasiveness of content, specifically regarding misinformation.

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