Critically Evaluating Multiple, Conflicting Pieces of Information: The Effects of Unpacking the Information, and Theory of Mind Ability

[Speaker] Manalo, Emmanuel:1
[Co-author] Mizokawa, Ai:2, Scharrer, Lisa:3, Koyasu, Masuo:1
1:Kyoto University (Japan), 2:Meiji Gakuin University (Japan), 3:University of Muenster (Germany)

With the increasing proliferation of information in modern societies, understanding factors that influence a person's critical evaluation of information is important. This study examined the possible influence of information presentation and Theory of Mind (ToM) ability. One-hundred-and-fifty-nine undergraduate students were presented multiple short pieces of information, varying in the positivity-negativity of the expressed view and in the likely presence of bias (according to the source), and asked to make decisions. The information was presented in a "packed" (items presented one after another) or an "unpacked" manner (requiring consideration of bias and relevance after each item). The participants also completed advanced ToM tasks to assess their ability to conceptualize other people's mental processes. Results revealed influence of the valence of unbiased information on participants' decisions irrespective of presentation manner. Results further suggested that ToM ability has some influence on critical evaluation depending on people's topic motivation and manner of information presentation.

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