Angry Content for Angry People: How Anger Appeals Facilitate Health Misinformation Recall on Social Media

Jiyoung Lee*, Callie Kalny, Stefanie Demetriades, Nathan Walter

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Social media is often viewed as a breeding ground for misinformation, given the anger-laden nature of its content. Despite the persuasiveness of anger and misinformation on social media, little is known about how misinformation surges in power when users are exposed to misinformation-related anger appeals and/or misinformation-unrelated (i.e. ambient) anger. Employing two online experiments across different health contexts, the studies test mechanisms of anger appeals and their individual and combined effects on misinformation recall. Specifically, Study 1 (N = 210) examines the interaction between a misinformation-related anger appeal and issue relevance, illustrating that issue relevance increased the recall of emotion-neutral appeals but did not influence recall among those exposed to the misinformation-related anger appeal. Expanding on this finding, Study 2 (N = 400) investigates a three-way interaction between exposure to a misinformation-related anger appeal, ambient anger, and issue relevance. The findings underscore the role of ambient anger in contributing to misinformation recall for users with high issue relevance and those exposed to misinformation-relevant anger appeals. These results further highlight the complex and conditional influence of anger appeals on misinformation recall.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalMedia Psychology
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2023

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Communication
  • Applied Psychology

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