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Inoculating against the spread of Islamophobic and radical-Islamist disinformation

We report the results of a preregistered study that tested the effectiveness of inoculating participants against Islamophobic and radical-Islamist disinformation. Participants in the experimental (inoculation) condition watched a video that explained common rhetorical markers of radical-Islamist and Islamophobic disinformation that had been identified in an analysis of YouTube content. The information was presented in a neutral context not involving Islam and focused on analysis of the misleading argumentation. The control group watched a video about an unrelated topic. Participants were then exposed to target videos with “gateway” content that constituted an entry point to potential Islamist or Islamophobic radicalization. Both videos contained numerous items of disinformation. Participants then answered a variety of questions such as how likely they were to share the video, their level of agreement, and their perceived accuracy of the video. Participants who had received the inoculation displayed less agreement with the video content, perceived the video as less reliable, and were less likely to share it in comparison with participants in the control group. The study provides support for the use of argument-based inoculation in combatting extremist messages.

(From the journal abstract)

Lewandowsky, S., Yesilada, M. Inoculating against the spread of Islamophobic and radical-Islamist disinformation. Cogn. Research 6, 57 (2021).

Authors: Stephan Lewandowsky, Muhsin Yesilada

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