Mixed news about the Bad News Game




Graham, Megan E.
Skov, Brittany
Gilson, Zoë
Heise, Calvin
Fallow, Kaitlyn M.
Mah, Eric Y.
Lindsay, D. Stephen

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Journal of Cognition


Basol et al. (2020) tested the “the Bad News Game” (BNG), an app designed to improve ability to spot false claims on social media. Participants rated simulated Tweets, then played either the BNG or an unrelated game, then re-rated the Tweets. Playing the BNG lowered rated belief in false Tweets. Here, four teams of undergraduate psychology students each attempted an extended replication of Basol et al., using updated versions of the original Bad News game. The most important extension was that the replications included a larger number of true Tweets than the original study and planned analyses of responses to true Tweets. The four replications were loosely coordinated, with each team independently working out how to implement the agreed plan. Despite many departures from the Basol et al. method, all four teams replicated their key finding: Playing the BNG reduced belief in false Tweets. But playing the BNG also reduced belief in true Tweets to the same or almost the same extent. Exploratory signal detection theory analyses indicated that the BNG increased response bias but did not improve discrimination. This converges with findings reported by Modirrousta-Galian and Higham (2023).


Earlier reports of the project were presented at the April 2022 meeting of NorthWest Cognition and Memory, and the July 2022 meeting of the Canadian Society for Brain, Behavioural, and Cognitive Sciences. Other students who contributed as part of the course included Adam Carr, Emily Faris, Rina Pinsky, Samantha Hicks, Katie Pagdin, Kaitlin Wulowka, Daniel Toneguzzi, Laurel Halleran, Marcel Petruzzelli, Doug Cawthorne, Hannah Mott, Shahana Mamdani, Tommy Cusano, Mahir Shetty, Sofiya Kearney, Evan Anderson, Juno Brill, Eloisa Roldan, Maddy Davies, Daniel Lee, Lucy Webber, and Uzay Oztaylan. We thank all for their roles. Thanks to Jon Roozenbeek for promptly providing us with the Basol et al. (2020) materials including their data, Qualtrics file, and plug-in for the Bad News Game. The project would not have been possible without that generous and timely assistance. Thanks also to Andrea Piccinin for advice on standardizing the truth-rating data.


Fake news, social media, gameified inoculation, Bad News Game


Graham, M. E., Skov, B., Gilson, Z., Heise, C., Fallow, K. M., Mah, E. Y., & Lindsay, D. S. (2023). Mixed news about the Bad News Game. Journal of Cognition, 6(1), 58. https://doi. org/10.5334/joc.324