We find that people who experience social marginalization are more likely to share COVID-19 news indiscriminately, that is, sharing news that is factually untrue and true, as well as news that seems surprising and unsurprising. This effect, driven by their general motivation to seek meaning, holds when people self-identify as being socially marginalized (i.e., experiencing frequent feelings of discrimination) and when they are situationally induced to feel marginalized. We demonstrate that an intervention to help people obtain a temporary sense of meaning by having high (vs. low) power can reduce indiscriminate news sharing. For socially marginalized individuals, sharing news on social media appears to reflect a need to make sense of their world and comprehend it.
Jun, Youjung, and Gita Johar. "Social Marginalization Motivates Indiscriminate Sharing of COVID-19 News on Social Media." Journal of the Association for Consumer Research (forthcoming).
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