Persuasion strategies of misinformation-containing posts in the social media

Sijing Chen, Lu Xiao, Jin Mao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


Social media users were found to be persuaded by misinformation and contribute to the propagation of misinformation. It is important and urgent to understand the mechanisms behind the presentation and diffusion of misinformation-containing posts in social media. However, majority of previous studies on online misinformation focused on the non-content or surface-linguistic features, which omitted the intrinsically sociological and psychological features behind the presentation of online misinformation. Based on persuasion theories, this study characterizes the usage of persuasion strategies and its influence on the propagation of misinformation-containing posts in Sina Weibo, which can help us better understand the sociological and psychological mechanism behind the presentation and diffusion of online misinformation. The findings of this study indicate that the pathos strategies are the most common acts of persuasion in misinformation-containing posts in contrast to regular posts. In addition, the type of persuasion strategies used in the misinformation-containing posts correlate with the topics, expected actions and digital elements of the posts. Furthermore, we found statistically significant effects of persuasion strategieson users’ responses to misinformation-containing posts. The findings of this study imply a complex and context-dependent mechanism behind the misinformation presentation and propagation, which shed lights on the efforts for fighting misinformation in social media.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number102665
JournalInformation Processing and Management
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 2021


  • Aristotle's rhetorical theory
  • Misinformation
  • Online social network
  • Persuasion strategy
  • Social media

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Information Systems
  • Media Technology
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Management Science and Operations Research
  • Library and Information Sciences


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