@millennials wary of @twitter, #MSU study finds

May 14, 2014
"Our findings suggest young people are somewhat wary of information that comes from Twitter," said Kimberly Fenn, assistant professor of psychology at Michigan State University. Credit: Michigan State University

A new study indicates young adults have a healthy mistrust of the information they read on Twitter.

Nearly anyone can start a Twitter account and post 140 characters of information at a time, bogus or not, a fact the study's participants seemed to grasp, said Kimberly Fenn, assistant professor of psychology at Michigan State University.

"Our findings suggest young people are somewhat wary of information that comes from Twitter," said Fenn, lead investigator on the study. "It's a good sign."

The study, funded by the National Science Foundation, is the first to examine social media and false memory. Participants were college students from the so-called Millennial Generation. Twitter, with 230 million users, is most popular among people in their teens and 20s.

Fenn and MSU colleagues showed 74 undergraduates a series of images on a computer that depicted a story of a man robbing a car. False information about the story was then presented in a scrolling text feed that bore a high resemblance to Twitter or in a feed from a more traditional online source.

The researchers tested whether the students integrated the bogus information into their minds, which psychologists call false memory. The results showed that when the participants read the "Twitter" feed, they were much less likely to form about the story.

Fenn said the students were more mistrustful of the Twitter feed than they were of the more traditional feed.

"We propose are taking into account the medium of the message when integrating information into memory," Fenn said.

The study appears online in the Springer research journal Psychonomic Bulletin & Review.

Explore further: Out of shape? Your memory may suffer

More information: Reference: Fenn, K. M. et al (2014). The effect of Twitter exposure on false memory formation, Psychonomic Bulletin & Review. DOI 10.3758/s13423-014-0639-9

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Out of shape? Your memory may suffer

May 02, 2014

Here's another reason to drop that doughnut and hit the treadmill: A new study suggests aerobic fitness affects long-term memory.

People learn while they sleep, study suggests

Sep 27, 2011

People may be learning while they're sleeping – an unconscious form of memory that is still not well understood, according to a study by Michigan State University researchers.

Instagram photo-sharing service goes down

Apr 12, 2014

Popular photo-sharing site Instagram was not working Saturday, as frustrated users quickly turned to social network Twitter and other web sites to share their complaints.

Recommended for you

A Closer Look: Your (online) life after death

20 hours ago

Sure, you have a lot to do today—laundry, bills, dinner—but it's never too early to start planning for your digital afterlife, the fate of your numerous online accounts once you shed this mortal coil.

Web filter lifts block on gay sites

20 hours ago

A popular online safe-search filter is ending its practice of blocking links to mainstream gay and lesbian advocacy groups for users hoping to avoid obscene sites.

Protecting infrastructure with smarter CPS

Sep 16, 2014

Security of IT networks is continually being improved to protect against malicious hackers. Yet when IT networks interface with infrastructures such as water and electric systems to provide monitoring and control capabilities, ...

Apple helps iTunes users delete free U2 album

Sep 15, 2014

Apple on Monday began helping people boot U2 off their iTunes accounts after a cacophony of complaints about not wanting the automatically downloaded free album by the Irish rock band.

User comments : 0