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Audio for E-learning

by Vira Gryaznova, Oct 18, 2021

Instructional Need / Objective:
Recognize the role of emotions in the fake news spreading problem.


Learning Activity Audience
Adults / young adults who are using social media platforms and want to become more literate on the fake news problem.


I wanted to produce something that I could use for my future project "Fake News Danger: Be a Rescuer". From all the topics that I plan to cover, the influence of our emotional level to the possibility of identifying fake news seems to be the most suitable for a podcast. I chose meditative background music to emphasize the importance of being calm and reasonable when reading the news feed. I hope that this podcast will also give an instant practical tool to the audience. 

Fake News and EmotionsVira Gryaznova
00:00 / 03:11


Hi, I am Vira and this is the next stage of our journey. This time, I’d like to talk about the role of emotions in evaluating fake news.

Fake news is defined as false or misleading content presented as news. It mimics real news in form, but not in the intent. Combine it with the fact that any user of social networks can be a source of news for their connections, and voilà – you are in a world where truth is constantly in question.


Scientific research shows that fake news spreads farther, faster, and more broadly on social networks than true stories. We already know of cognitive biases, that can be in charge of this fact. But are there other reasons?


Cameron Martel and David G. Rand from Massachusetts Institute of Technology, US, and Gordon Pennycook from the University of Regina, Canada, conducted research and published its results in October 2020. What did they learn?


In their study, they examine the association between experiencing specific emotions and believing fake news. At first, participants of their experiments defined their current emotional state with the Positive and Negative Affect Schedule questionnaire, which contains 20 different possible emotions, both positive and negative. Then participants received a series of actual headlines that appeared on social media, half of which were real news and another half of which were fake ones – and they needed to distinguish between real and fake news.


It appears that for nearly every emotion, no matter positive or negative, when emotionality increases, belief in fake news also increases, and on the contrary, the ability to differentiate between real and fake news decreases.


Martel, Pennycook, and Rand also discovered that susceptibility to fake news appears to be more about the increased reliance on emotion rather than decreased analytic thinking.


Other researchers find that fake news often aims to elicit high emotionality. I bet you can easily recall some news headlines to confirm this. And we find ourselves in a deadlock: we believe in fake news because of our emotions, fake news induces our emotional level higher than it was before, and then our belief in fake news becomes even stronger. The only escape from this deadlock is returning to reason instead of emotions.


For a final note, I’d like to quote the advice of Valerii Pekar, a Ukrainian public figure. He once said: “If you are reading the news headlines or Facebook feed, and you feel very emotional with some of this stuff– stop! Exhale, inhale, exhale. You are being manipulated. Don’t react.”


Thanks for listening!

The podcast was created with Adobe Audition.

  • Martel, C., Pennycook, G., & Rand, D. G. (2020). Reliance on emotion promotes belief in fake news. Cognitive Research: Principles and Implications, 5(1), 47.

  • Lazer, D. M. J., Baum, M. A., Benkler, Y., Berinsky, A. J., Greenhill, K. M., Menczer, F., Metzger, M. J., Nyhan, B., Pennycook, G., Rothschild, D., Schudson, M., Sloman, S. A., Sunstein, C. R., Thorson, E. A., Watts, D. J., & Zittrain, J. L. (2018). The science of fake news. Science, 359(6380), 1094–1096.

  • Watson, D., Clark, L. A., & Tellegen, A. (1988). Development and validation of brief measures of positive and negative affect: The PANAS scales. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 54(6), 1063–1070.

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