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According to a new study from the University of Texas at Austin, sharing articles on social media makes people think they know more about the subject of the article than they actually do.

Sharing a news article, for example, can make people feel like they know more about its topic even if they haven’t read it or just skimmed the headline, the study said.

File: In this image example, logos of social media apps, Instagram, WhatsApp, Messenger, WeChat, Signal, Telegram, TikTok, Twitter and Facebook.
(Getty Images)

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“Sharing may create this increase in confidence because by providing information online, sharers publicly commit to an expert identity,” the study says. “Doing this shapes their sense of self, helping them feel as knowledgeable as the post.”

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The study, published online earlier in the journal Consumer Psychology, includes data from the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism that shows more than half of consumers read the entire article, while about a quarter read part of the story, and a fifth scan the headline and a few paragraphs.

Marketing professor Susan M. Bronierczyk says people may think they don’t need to read or learn additional information about something if they feel more knowledgeable about it.

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“This misperception of knowledge can be difficult to correct,” says Broniarczyk.

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