What People Tell Other People About New Technologies: The Impact of Attitudes Toward the Technology and Trust Toward the Source on Information Distortion
People often receive information about scientific developments and new technologies from peers and via social media instead of from the original source. During this process, information may get lost or distorted, resulting in an inaccurate perception of the technologies’ risks and benefits. It has been hypothesized that people’s trust in the information source and their initial attitude toward the technology are drivers of this distortion. In two experiments, participants received information about a new technology that elicited either a positive or a negative attitude and that was provided by a trusted source or a less trusted source. They were asked to write down what they would tell a friend about it. Both the initial attitude and the source trustworthiness influenced what and how participants communicated about the new technology.