Apulaisprofessori, dosentti Gritsenko Daria ja työryhmä (H-DOUBT)

16900 €

Heuristics of Doubt: Information Foraging in Digital Media Environments


All over the world, experts and ordinary citizens alike are aware of and worried about the surge of misinformation – false and misleading messages circulating in the media. Misinformation has been acknowledged as one of the key challenges to democracy in the early twenty-first century because it creates a polarised and hostile information environment in which deliberation is in decline. Extant research generated important knowledge on what makes people gullible to misinformation and how to help them spot the so-called “fake news.” Yet, we still know surprisingly little about what makes people doubt the credibility of information they encounter. Since doubt is a sceptical intuition, it is the key condition for the onset of critical thinking that has been shown to help people spot misinformation. Drawing on the ecological rationality approach, we argue that people’s encounters with information online can be understood as “information foraging” and their practices are driven by simple heuristics, colloquially “rules of thumb.” Specifically, H-DOUBT studies information foraging among Finnish media professionals and ordinary citizens to understand their heuristics of doubt. Using observational and experimental methods, we explore what triggers doubt in the context of polarised topics and how people act upon their doubt. Thereby, our project generates new insights into how people in contemporary Finland exactly evaluate information their encounter online. We further explore whether we can boost people’s information foraging skills in an experimental setting. Our study will break new ground in understanding one of the core practices associated with the quality of democratic deliberation - online political information consumption – and address the challenges of misinformation from a novel theoretical angle.