: The exposure to relevant social and/or historical events can increase the generation of false memories (FMs). The Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic is a calamity challenging health, political, and journalistic bodies, with media generating confusion that has facilitated the spread of fake news. In this respect, our study aims at investigating the relationships between memories (true memories, TMs vs. FMs) for COVID-19-related news and different individual variables (i.e., use of traditional and social media, COVID-19 perceived and objective knowledge, fear of the disease, depression and anxiety symptoms, reasoning skills, and coping mechanisms). One hundred and seventy-one university students (131 females) were surveyed. Overall, our results suggested that depression and anxiety symptoms, reasoning skills, and coping mechanisms did not affect the formation of FMs. Conversely, the fear of loved ones contracting the infection was found to be negatively associated with FMs. This finding might be due to an empathy/prosociality-based positive bias boosting memory abilities, also explained by the young age of participants. Furthermore, objective knowledge (i) predicted an increase in TMs and decrease in FMs and (ii) significantly mediated the relationships between the use of social media and development of both TMs and FMs. In particular, higher levels of objective knowledge strengthened the formation of TMs and decreased the development of FMs following use of social media. These results may lead to reconsidering the idea of social media as the main source of fake news. This claim is further supported by either the lack of substantial differences between the use of traditional and social media among participants reporting FMs or the positive association between use of social media and levels of objective knowledge. The knowledge about the topic rather than the type of source would make a difference in the process of memory formation.

Objective Knowledge Mediates the Relationship between the Use of Social Media and COVID-19-Related False Memories

Ilardi, Ciro Rosario;Borrelli, Giovanni;Gamboz, Nadia;La Marra, Marco;
2021

Abstract

: The exposure to relevant social and/or historical events can increase the generation of false memories (FMs). The Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic is a calamity challenging health, political, and journalistic bodies, with media generating confusion that has facilitated the spread of fake news. In this respect, our study aims at investigating the relationships between memories (true memories, TMs vs. FMs) for COVID-19-related news and different individual variables (i.e., use of traditional and social media, COVID-19 perceived and objective knowledge, fear of the disease, depression and anxiety symptoms, reasoning skills, and coping mechanisms). One hundred and seventy-one university students (131 females) were surveyed. Overall, our results suggested that depression and anxiety symptoms, reasoning skills, and coping mechanisms did not affect the formation of FMs. Conversely, the fear of loved ones contracting the infection was found to be negatively associated with FMs. This finding might be due to an empathy/prosociality-based positive bias boosting memory abilities, also explained by the young age of participants. Furthermore, objective knowledge (i) predicted an increase in TMs and decrease in FMs and (ii) significantly mediated the relationships between the use of social media and development of both TMs and FMs. In particular, higher levels of objective knowledge strengthened the formation of TMs and decreased the development of FMs following use of social media. These results may lead to reconsidering the idea of social media as the main source of fake news. This claim is further supported by either the lack of substantial differences between the use of traditional and social media among participants reporting FMs or the positive association between use of social media and levels of objective knowledge. The knowledge about the topic rather than the type of source would make a difference in the process of memory formation.
COVID-19
fake news
false memories
fear
objective knowledge
social media
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/20.500.12570/25794
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