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Wicks SG, Hales AH, Hennes EP. (2023) 'Does disseminating (mis)information restore social connection during a global pandemic?'. Social and Personality Psychology Compass
doi: https://doi.org/10.1111/spc3.12825LICENSE FOR USE
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Sydney Wicks (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Andrew Hales (email@example.com)
Erin Hennes (firstname.lastname@example.org) ABSTRACT
The COVID-19 pandemic impeded social interactions, negatively affecting well-being worldwide. To slow virus spread, practices were enacted to minimize face-to-face interaction. Consequently, individuals felt increasingly disconnected from others. As people turned to online environments (e.g., social media platforms), misinformation regarding COVID-19 ran rampant. The purpose of the current study was to examine whether social disconnection impacted willingness to share COVID-19-related claims(regardless of their accuracy). A United States sample of social media users (N = 431) was randomly assigned to be either included, ostracized, or rejected, after which they rated their willingness to share high- and low-expected engagement COVID-19 claims. We found that participants were more willing to share claims that they believed would lead to higher levels of engagement. Contrary to predictions, this behavior did not vary as a function of inclusion status. Disseminating misinformation that could be expected to provide high amounts of attention may serve as an opportunity to enhance one’s sense of social connection, whether recently excluded or not.