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New paper from ASU researchers looks at why people hold false beliefs

Misinformation can be pervasive on social media, especially during times before and around elections. 

A new paper from ASU researchers is posing questions to figure out why people hold false beliefs.

The review looked at different social functions behind holding beliefs that are false.

The paper proposed people could hold false beliefs through irrational processes in order to show group commitment, disparage rivals, or as outrage to mobilize their faction.

Michael Barlev is an assistant research professor at ASU and a lead author of the paper.

"We also ought to be considering other reasons for why people believe and spread falsehoods. And it's possible that people are much less irrational than it seems and that these falsehoods do something for them," Barlev said. 

He said sometimes the best way for introspection is to see what information causes anger. 

“I noticed that. When my emotions start getting fired up when I'm starting to feel emotions like anger, oftentimes it's a good marker that I might not be thinking through things as dispassionately and rationally as I should be," he said.

Barlev said the researchers will soon start experiments based on the premises posed.

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Greg Hahne started as a news intern at KJZZ in 2020 and returned as a field correspondent in 2021. He learned his love for radio by joining Arizona State University's Blaze Radio, where he worked on the production team.