AUSTIN (KXAN) — A new research study from the University of Texas at Austin found that sharing on social media makes people overconfident in their knowledge.
According to the study, sharing news articles with friends and followers on social media can prompt people to think they know more about the articles’ topics than they actually do.
“Social media sharers believe that they are knowledgeable about the content they share, even if they have not read it or have only glanced at a headline,” the study suggested. “Sharing can create this rise in confidence because by putting information online, sharers publicly commit to an expert identity. Doing so shapes their sense of self, helping them to feel just as knowledgeable as their post makes them seem.”
The research was published online in advance in the Journal of Consumer Psychology.
The study included recent data from the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism that showed 51% of consumers who “read” an online news story actually read the whole article, while 26% read part of the story and 22% looked at just the headline or a few paragraphs.
According to the study, the research also suggested there’s merit to social media companies that have piloted ways to encourage people to read articles before sharing.
“If people feel more knowledgeable on a topic, they also feel they maybe don’t need to read or learn additional information on that topic,” Susan M. Broniarczyk, a professor of marketing, said in the release. “This miscalibrated sense of knowledge can be hard to correct.”