Let's fight the infodemic : the third-person effect process of misinformation during public health emergencies

Research output: Journal Publications and Reviews (RGC: 21, 22, 62)21_Publication in refereed journalpeer-review

1 Scopus Citations
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Detail(s)

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1357-1377
Number of pages21
Journal / PublicationInternet Research
Volume32
Issue number4
Online published14 Jan 2022
Publication statusPublished - 4 Jul 2022

Abstract

Purpose - Drawing on the third-person effect (TPE) theory and the theory of planned behavior (TPB) as a theoretical framework, the current study aims to explore the cognitive mechanisms behind how third-person perception (TPP) of misinformation about public health emergencies affects intention to engage in corrective actions via attitude, subjective norms and perceived behavioral control. Design/methodology/approach - A total of 1,063 participants in China were recruited via a professional survey company (Sojump) to complete an online national survey during the outbreak of coronavirus (COVID-19) in China. Structural equation modeling using Mplus 7.0 was used to address the research hypotheses. Findings - The results reveal that attention to online information about public health emergencies significantly predicted TPP. In addition, TPP positively influenced attitude and perceived behavioral control, which, in turn, positively encouraged individuals to take corrective actions to debunk online misinformation. However, TPP did not significantly influence subjective norms. A potential explanation is provided in the discussion section. Research limitations/implications - The research extends the TPE theory by providing empirical evidence for corrective actions and uncovers the underlying cognitive mechanism behind the TPE by exploring key variables of the TPB as mediating constructs. These are all significant theoretical contributions to the TPE and offer practical contributions to combating online misinformation. Originality/value - The research extends the TPE theory by providing empirical evidence for a novel behavioral outcome (i.e. corrective actions in response to misinformation) and uncovers the cognitive mechanism underlying the TPE by exploring key variables of the TPB as mediating constructs. These are all significant theoretical contributions to the TPE and offer practical contributions to combating online misinformation.

Research Area(s)

  • Corrective actions, COVID-19, Misinformation, Theory of planned behavior, Third-person effect