Document Type

Thesis

Publication Date

2018

Abstract

Fake news is an increasingly significant problem in American society today. However, little scholarly research has been done to understand what affects a person’s ability to identify fake news. This study aimed to explore factors of political socialization that are related to young adults’ ability to identify fake news and their confidence in doing so. The study involved a performance assessment in which participants were asked to decide if news articles were true or false as well as confidence in their decision. The independent variables of interest included family communication styles, partisanship and political ideology of the child and parent, perceived media bias, general political attention, and attention to the Russian interference investigation. The data suggested significant relationships between: (1) conformity-orientation and ability to correctly identify fake news; (2) conversation-orientation and confidence in ability to correctly identify news; (3) the amount of attention paid to the ongoing Russian interference investigation and confidence in ability to correctly identify news; and (4) income level and ability to correctly identify news. These findings together suggested that there are relationships between specific aspects of a person’s political socialization that are related to their ability to and confidence in distinguishing between factual and fake news.

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