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Sharing articles on social media makes people think they know more about the articles’ topics than they actually do, according to a new study from the University of Texas at Austin.
Sharing a news article, for instance, can make people think they know more about its subject even if they have not read it or have only glanced at the headline, the study says.
“Sharing can create this rise in confidence because by putting information online, sharers publicly commit to an expert identity,” the study says. “Doing so shapes their sense of self, helping them to feel just as knowledgeable as their post makes them seem.”
The study, published online in advance in the Journal of Consumers Psychology, includes data from the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism that showed barely more than half of consumers read the entire article, while about a quarter read part of the story, and just over a fifth scan the headline and a few paragraphs.
Marketing professor Susan M. Broniarczyk said people might feel they don’t need to read or learn additional information on a topic if they feel more knowledgeable about it.
“This miscalibrated sense of knowledge can be hard to correct,” Broniarczyk said.