The Role of Emotions and Identity-Protection Cognition When Processing (Mis)Information

In this study, we investigate the role of emotions in identity-protection cognition to understand how people draw inferences from politicized (mis-)information. In doing so, we combine the identity-protection cognition theory with insights about the effects of emotions on information processing. Central to our study, we assume that the relationship between an individual’s political identity and inference-conclusions of politicized information is mediated by the experienced emotions anger, anxiety, and enthusiasm. In an online study, 463 German adults were asked to interpret numerical information in two politically polarizing contexts (refugee intake and driving ban for Diesel cars) and one nonpolarizing context (treatment of skin rash). Results showed that, although emotions were mostly unrelated to political identity, they predicted performance more consistently than political identity and cognitive sophistication.


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