Why millions don't trust the election results, despite no evidence of widespread fraud: Experts

Experts weighed in on why we believe disinformation, despite a lack of evidence.

11/22/2020 8:11:00 PM

Since Election Day, numerous false allegations of fraud have been published on social media and repeated elsewhere, most of which have been easily debunked, yet a large swath of the population still appears to believe them.

Experts weighed in on why we believe disinformation, despite a lack of evidence.

So what is it about the human psyche that makes us so susceptible to disinformation?“The short answer is that it has less to do with the content of the information and more to do with the social identity of the person,” Dannagal Young, political psychologist and associate professor at the University of Delaware, told ABC News. “What's driving some of these inclinations is about who these people feel they are, what groups they're associated with, who they identify as and who they identify with."

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MORE: Misinformation targeted Latino voters in the 2020 electionExploiting divisionsAs of Friday, Biden had nearly 80 million votes -- some 10 million more than the previous record set by Barack Obama in 2008. ButPresident Trumpalso eclipsed Obama's record with nearly 74 million votes at last count. The record turnout was propelled in part by record mail-in voting due to the pandemic, which Trump and his allies, have claimed, without evidence, is ripe for fraud.

Also fueling doubt is the fact that Trump appeared to lead in several key states on election night, only to see those leads reversed when mail-in ballots were counted. Trump has also been relentlessly attacking the ballot-counting procedures in several key states since Election Day.

Young argued that the political parties in the United States have become increasingly correlated with two distinct cultures defined by religious identity, racial identity and geographic location. As a result it’s easier to create a false story that taps into those identities, making one side or the other more likely to believe it.

Add onto the political environment the fact that we’re living through a pandemic, when people are extremely anxious and uncertain about the future, and you have a perfect storm of conditions to sow disinformation, the experts said.“If you just feel like things are out of control, that that can be really debilitating. So people want to impose order on the world," said Young. So if someone offers a wild theory, even though it might not be logical, you’re more likely to believe it because it helps explain your situation and give you control.

Accompanying the deepening divisions in the U.S. is anger and distrust of the others side.Young said that if you can create a target and turn that fear into anger, that will give an extra incentive for someone to believe you. “It seems counterintuitive, but anger makes people feel optimistic because anger has a forward driving momentum."

MORE: What social media giants are doing to counter misinformation this election'Cognitive misers'Dr. David Rand, a cognitive scientist at M.I.T., acknowledged that people are more likely to believe something that aligns with how they see the world but argues that there’s a much simpler reason for why people fall for disinformation. He says that people are"cognitive misers," which he says essentially means that the brain will always look for the simplest solution to a problem, and that especially with social media, people just don’t take the time to analyze the information properly.

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“Our work suggests that if you ask people to stop and think about is this true, most people are actually pretty good at telling sort of like fake news from true news,” he told ABC News.The platforms, by design, are like built to focus your attention on things other than whether content is accurate or not," he added. Firstly users are scrolling so fast they don’t have time to engage their brains -- people are thinking about what will get them more likes and retweets not necessarily whether what they post is true. “It makes you think about how are people going to like this? What's it going to say about me? Not 'Is it accurate?”

MORE: 5 ways to spot disinformation on your social media feedsWhere the information is coming fromWhere the information comes from also influences how likely you are to believe it. Rand explained that people are more likely to believe information from people that they trust and that they think are reliable."You can have something that you find really surprising, doesn't fit with your previous beliefs at all," he said.

"But if it's from a source you really trust, then you think, 'OK, I guess I was wrong.' Whereas if it's from a source you think is sketchy, then you're like more likely the source is wrong than everything I know about the world is wrong," Young said.

Young also emphasized this point saying it's particularly dangerous when elites spread disinformation, because the reader's mind is less likely to do the critical thinking if he or she thinks someone they respect has already done this for them. “This is why the rhetoric of elites like politicians or journalists or people we respect is so powerful because, again, their status serves as a cue," added Young.

As a result of media coverage, people are more aware of disinformation but nobody seems to think they will ever be duped by it -- what Young calls the"third-person effect." “Everyone is susceptible to disinformation. We think that other people are, but we're not. It's such a logical fallacy because we can't all be right or it wouldn’t be a problem,” Young added.

Of course, if someone believes they’re immune to disinformation, that means it’s very difficult to change their minds once they’ve taken hold of a false narrative.Research suggests that debunking a falsity can actually have the opposite effect and help propagate the original falsity if not done properly. Young suggests debunking be done using the"truth sandwich" effect, whereby you preface the falsity with what is true, discuss the false allegation and then reiterate what is true.

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Introducing a"speed bump" that forces people to think more about the information they consume, like the warning labels platforms like Twitter and Facebook have begun to place on false or misleading posts, are proven to lessen the spread of those posts according to Rand's research.

“There are severalpapers Read more: ABC News »

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Democrats on election fraud. Explains a lot! 'It turns out that truth seeking–the desire to know the truth regardless of whether it aligns with the beliefs we currently hold–is actually opposed to way our brains process information.' This baseless claim that there has been no evidence of fraud in the election is disputed.

Because dingle berry said so. The problem is Trump would have claimed voter fraud no matter who ran against & lost to because in his mind he is so great. Trump doesn't realize he is human & not the GOD he thinks he is. 25thAmendmentNow Russia!!!! Own it. The ultimate problem is that since mainstream media abandoned objectivity in favor of partisanship, polls have suggested overwhelming public mistrust of media. Hence, most people are floundering in a sea of information, bereft of the tools to divine what is true and what isn't.

You just can’t fix stupid. Y'all bern trusting the voting system. When something is not going your way you want to call it fraud. Really Where is your evidence that no fraud took place you have NOTHING Yo, stupid... Sworn Affidavit of Americans... Is Evidence🤦‍♀️ A Tale of Two Phils What Did They Know About 911? with Special Guests C... via YouTube

ATTENTION 🇺🇸PATRIOTS - POST THE ELECTION FRAUD STORIES HERE so these IDIOTS CAN SEE IT! Most of them are knuckleDragging trumpanzees. the other 15 have an anti-American agenda. Well most of those believers have a brain of an ant soooooo.....🤡🤡 Who cares what those obtuse imbeciles think? Hell at this point Trump's Cult followers would even turn on him if he said there wasn't fraud in the election. This is the beast he created.

No , they have NOT been debunked.. Just ruled against by liberal judges Because they drank the Koolaid! Because never have allegations such as these just been blocked or disregarded before like they are now. It's causing people to be suspicious. Any other time the media would over-blow these things, but not now. Why?

Because they don't read and understand the intricacies of politics and voting, the double-speak from the Trump administration and the deep-seated racist undertone that has been with all their plans and They lack political education. That is the plain truth. That is what happens when education is cut by gop year after year...

factcheck These are the SCREWED UP ppl who just dont get it an when you feed them A BUNCH OF LIES then thats where you make them loss !!! ABC only trusts the results because their Paid off / corrupt candidate won --- Had Biden lost you'd be crying louder --- YOU are the top of the LameStream Media I’m afraid even after fraud allegations have been proven to be false many people will just refuse to ever believe it. How disturbing that they will put their trust in Trump instead.

I think because they worship Trump instead if God. Sad. That kool aid goes down so good The statistical 's have never been explained. Plenty of evidence lying Communist ABC! The false allegations of no voter fraud is coming from lying liberal Communist media! Why are we still having this conversation? They were CRAZY BEFORE the election. This is not a change. Low IQ + lack of emotional maturity + boundless ignorance + racism. Its not a mystery. Its the same thing that got us Trump at all: Cant fix stoopid. Just gotta neuter it.

Facebook. Saved you Okay alright I will say it for you...what is “sheepism” ✅ The “large swath of the population “ are morons. Stop placating to stupidity. If you would do your job, there wouldn’t be an issue. Screenshot!! Ya they believe every word he tells them he’s lied so much over the past four years

One has to wonder where the real problem is Fraud RickWorthington Kind of like how you “easily debunked” Russian collusion, Ukraine quid pro quo, and cheerled impeachment. So I totally wonder why the public doesn’t get on board with media and msm “news.” You did this, on purpose. Why isn't ABC news in the 12 hour Twitter timeout for voicing opinion about election?😕

100’s of affidavits and the media claims 0 proof.. Delusional people can’t understand that more people voted against their cult leader so Trump lost. You still don't get it do you ? It's the media we really don't trust and never will again .If it hadn't been for President Trump we would never have seen just how dispicble the tabloids really are .😳😳😳

False ? It is incredibly insane how you are faking news. The only way we can reform the Republican party if Trump goes to jail.This party supports racism,murderers,and have basically become Trump wannabes.Trump cannot pardon himself from state matters like in New York or rape.This has to end with him in prison.

It's a sad story that republicans are making this but it's nowhere near as bad when Trump became president and the birth of the crying idiocrats happened. These people know trump is lying...there is no 'deep dive' needed. They are a cult, trying to twist reality to please their cult leader. At this point, why is anyone entertaining this bullshit?

Selfishness and Racism. They may have been debunked but they haven't been refuted or disproven. People sense something is wrong. Questioning the integrity of the electoral process has been turned into a pathology by the media. The Soviet Union also pathologized dissidents and locked them up. How could you watch what the media are doing now without thinking they are all controlled by China ?


Warning claims made in this Tweet/Report are disputed. Because is not transparent. A large swath of the population must be idiots. Those people who distrust the election results are people who will never trust any election result even if they counted the ballots themselves. These people are called Deniers. Don't believe it even if they see it for themselves.

Well, you can blame the media. They've been doing this misinformation for years. Media only report things that fit their agenda. Nowadays, it's easier for people using social media to spread misinformation. It's becoming increasing difficult to distinguish info. Information very important with all. Democ must repect.

ABC, we gladly accept your resignation as a network, come January 20, 2020. You are FAKENEWS. We know your ratings are tumbling and you are in desperation mode. MAGA2020LandslideVictory What is the truth then and what are we supposed to believe and your sources to prove to believe you? Because you are on air talent. Nothingness

The truth gets out despite censorship I still don't understand why the vote counts stopped while trump was ahead in 6 or 7 states, then when they restarted, Joe Biden was ahead. I still haven't heard a good reason for this. More like an 80 Million large swath? How about that...you fake POS network. 🚨There's no 'HEALING WITHOUT ACCOUNTABILITY FOR THE CRIMES THAT HAVE BEEN COMMITTED AGAINST THE USA & OUR PEOPLE' by 'The Principal' realDonaldTrump & his 'Accessory after the fact'. The MAJOR reason I voted for JoeBiden KamalaHarris Please investigate, Indict & Prosecute.

Despite all your assurances? Oh the ignorant, it’s unbelievable ! The claim about allegations being false is disputed. You can’t stop stupid people from believing stupid things. why not report on it then? If your innocent and it’s so absurd and crazy then why haven’t Biden and the media backed up the innocent claim and actually put the American people at ease? Because you have something to hide and you’re hoping if you don’t talk about it, it’ll go away

😂🤣 Yeah. Those brainwashed by Trump. ...despite persistent ABC NEWS propaganda to the contrary. Guliani's affidavits arent false claims. And so says your biased news! Nobody believes you anymore! Your not credible! Move on really I think the media needs to do more to debunk false allegation enlighten the public about information that are real elections held in America where credible infact the best history will remember

Because it isnt over yet. What is it? We will all find out in good time Because of Fox News and the trash Republican Party. People believe it because the presidents words used to mean something. When you’re in a cult, you don’t know you’re being lied to. 8000 plus votes from homeless,and dead people thats organization..and just one state..but there's no fraud right..REALLY?

People are stupid. That sign, they know I've been cheating on my wife. All this is doing is letting Americans know that ppl hate all the ppl that voted for him have hate in their hearts Because they are uninformed and believe liars! US is a Talk Show Nation. They were raised listening to gossips with wagging tongues. Trump captivated them because he is endowed with such tongue.

And counting.. Well we don’t believe the media these days that’s for sure Uneducated masses and a bankrupt economy only lead to the destruction and death of a nation. When one appears in great magnatude like here in the US, its only a matter of time before the 2nd follows. Less education better chance of dictatorship and more educated more democracy.

There should be a strong filter on the White House internet browser to prevent rabbit holes.... A large swathe of the population are following social media, to get their news. Instead of reputable news outlets. Now is the time for urgent federal rules, regulations and laws to prevent disinformation and propaganda! TRUTH MATTERS!

We need to stop the globalists, put them on a list so they can never start a new world order ever again. Let them know we will destroy their lives if they cross freedom lovers. They made this threat to Trump supporters. Back at them. Remember there are more of us & heavily armed. Having read a couple of affidavits on dominion regarding MI and some statistical reports on mail ins in PA, I am convinced as a member of public that massive fraud was carried out in this election. The world is watching!!!

ABC & the rest of the media are saying widespread, no one else uses that word. It hasn’t been debunked, it’s been dismissed. You can’t debunk something if you refuse to look into it or investigate it which is what a good journalist person/company does. Define false and unless you're God creator what makes you correct. I believe what I choose to believe that's freedom my censoring friends.

you always report how easily fraud is disproved yet rarely if ever disprove it. Trump says one thing you another. you say Biden won the election then give updated election counts. you make no sense. has Biden been certified by the electoral college? did Trump concede? In other news it has been discovered that ABC is no longer a legitimate news source and that they only do what big money tells them to.

Yes we do Please, write about the80 million+ people who don’t believe the ludicrous claims. Are you High Understand Trump's plan to prove voter fraud in the swing states Because lame internet nonsense so bizarre the President even fell for it!!!! Isn’t it odd it happens to be the people with the least amount of education that believe there’s fraud? Lol

Nobody believes the media. If this Election was Legit, allaul-,I'm votes in guise of COVID19 as an excuse, would have been 'tallied' prior to Novrmber 3, 2020, that 'is' the sole purpose for 'early' mail-in votes!!! True Fact Isis Get over it big babies Facts dont have feelings Put on your big boy pants

BIG FRAUD We all know Trump won , it’s just a matter of time. MAGA It doesn’t matter what they think. Their tangerine terror is out in January. Fraud The Republican Party is dead, now, all former republican politicians belong to the Trumpy Party. Trump’s campaign team uses a very simple yet effective mode of communication: newsletter. The content is emotionally-provocative, inciting anguish and victimising its followers using individual rights infringement as a bait, and lastly, requests money otherwise congregate.

See You in Supreme Court. Wait ABC False So you believe it is normal for ballots to magically appear during the night ALL for one candidate It is ok for dead people to vote? Ballots can be changed and invalidated Really? I believe in honesty and integrity. We will never know who REALLY won. The media wants you to believe it isn’t true.

Her sign says it all! Lefties have tried everything so fraudulent election a definite possibility! Do they also believe there are aliens all around us Reps. are angry because they think the Dems. stole a fake election. Dems. are angry because the Reps. are trying to steal the real election. As always Trump Divided US by = Fake VS Real.

A large swatch of backwoods white population believe them. Why were poll watchers not allowed to watch? Why were there 'glitches' with the Dominion software? What about the statistical analysis? The Supreme Court will judge upon evidence presented, then we can move on Because I saw this ↓ Only because Trump is spreading this nonsense 😠😡😠 Once he's gone we'll return to normal

Here’s the thing. The whole thing looks shady as ****. If it weren’t so shady looking and Trump was crying foul, sure. But this did not unfold normally and the media sold it as every step of the way as if it did. We just don’t believe you like we used to. Yeah! I have some friends who have the same attitude. I don't discuss some of this with them. It just separates us. Let them believe what they will. It's not going to change the truth.

ABC, why do you keep saying false allegations when numerous frauds have been made public ? Are you part of the conspiracy ? I don't believe Bidden won a fair election and I know now it will be a waste of my time and effort to ever vote again so all you crooks can have it .I'm just one person and nothing I can do except be ashamed of the way this country is run .

When Obama ran for Senator you had no problem when he did it why is it different because of trump. Trump wants to turn USA into a full blown BananaRepublic Enabled by GOP BananaRepublicans Well there are lots of people that believe the earth is flat so yeah, they exist for now. we the american ppl r smart: DEMS' OVERNIGHT UNIVERSAL MAIL IN VOTING IN DEMS-CONTROLLED STATES THAT DONT HAVE CLEAN VOTERS ROLLS WAS UNFAIR N UNCONSTITUTIONAL.

Whites are so afraid of becoming the minority. Sen. David Perdue’s (R-GA) use of a subcommittee appointment for stock market gains is “flagrant corruption.” It is “common sense” to prevent senators from trading individual stock to ensure “officials serve us, we who elect them and pay their salaries, and not themselves.”

It’s a reflection of America’s horrible education system Which ones have been debunked? The 100's of sworn affidavits? The video of michigan thugs covering windows to prevent observers from observing? The audio of the training class? The way the voting machines can change votes? States stopping the count for hours at the same time?

They lost and are sore losers. Instead of making a case for the issues, they show their own extremism. They csnt accept that there is sizable amount of Americans that reject their skewed vision that has no basis in reality but is supported by misinformation. They believe Donny, after he has been documented lying thousands of times. He is a sociopath, but they are the ones who are the problem. The conservative bubble will lead us to a very bad place.

😂 AlwaysBroadcastingCommunism must have missed this! 'Two California men have been charged in a case involving the submission of more than 8,000 fraudulent voter applications on behalf of homeless people, the Los Angeles' To admit they are false would be to admit they are wrong. Something they can’t do..

Of course fake media will refuse to accept the massive fraud and violations. Mail in ballots harvesting, dead people voting...they have been so unfair and biased. Remember over half of our population voted for Trump. Mostly middle class and fair minded people. It is a little strange that dead people are voting for Biden.

no evidence of widespread fraud != lots of evidence of targeted fraud Because they have created an entire subculture and ideological identity around one person. They can’t accept that he lost. There's a lot of discrepancies... The media refuses to show them Nothing has been debunked because corrupt democrat judges refuse to look at evidence!! Sidney Powell say Georgia is going to be the 1st state to GO DOWN!!!

Too back Trump means to back conspiracy theories hatred Cruelty callousness and cold heartedness Never give in👊, never give up.👍 Thank you Sidney Powell Defending The Republic and President Trump. Yup, they completely trust their lord and master. He has brainwashed them, like mush in his hands. Very sad...

It's a cult These are the same folks that don't respect education, rubberneck car crashes, pass every juicy gossip anyone makes up, and think Adam & Eve populated the whole earth with nothing but 3 sons. This election sure looks like fraud. Trump is up by 10 points in these states then they stop counting for awhile then when they restart counting almost every vote was for Biden. Something not right about that.

Probably multiple factors ranging from the rationale to the raving - to some DT is a messiah, to others he offers a highly-charged pro-American posture, to many he is victimised & vilified by powerful forces - but none of these make a tangible defence so they attack the poll! Those kinds of brainwashing tactics are so hard to combat. I believe it would take some sort of psychiatric help to deprogram all the dangerous conspiracies these cult followers believe in to so adamantly deny the reality that's right in front of them. It's so sad.

The real question is why is it after 4 years of Democrats claiming fraud are they now saying there is none? The fact is that there is fraud every election. There has to be with mail in voting and no voter ID. The problem is each side claims fraud when they lose. My guess is people don't trust experts-who are all partisan hacks.

The Republicans did all they could to steal this election. Fake ballot boxes, closing polling places, sabotaging the postal service, among other things. When it comes to cheating, Republicans, look in the mirror. It’s because the main stream media is the virus!! Because 8k dead people voted in Pennsylvania.

Does election fraud need to be widespread to be illegal & worthy of investigation? Witnesses & evidence of election count mistakes totaling thousands of votes in Arizona Georgia Michigan Pennsylvania Wisconsin favoring Biden. Dont lie if they favored Trump you would investigate Right...the election is not over.

ABC these false allegations of fraud are disputed because you haven't proven the election was fair. SundayGrandWord 회개와거룩함 Global Sunday Revival Service November 22, 2020 The Messiah is coming 메시아께서 오십니다 2020년 11월 22일 방송 Because tRumpkins are indicts TrumpIsPathetic TrumpIsANationalDisgrace TrumpMeltdown

If one follows Trump's & Giuliani's Twitter pages, one will learn where these false allegations are being birthed. After all, who gave birth to the Obama Birth Certificate Conspiracy Theory? Uneducated racist sexist followers. Those that believe and voted for him are JUST LIKE HIM. Easily debunked? PA passed a law right before the election to not verify signatures and threw away the envelopes (and any hope of validating). I personally could put in dozens of dead people to multiple state websites and it showed they received and cast a ballot.

realDonaldTrump crossed the line between the sensible and the ridiculous Parked on the ridiculous side of the border Unhappy with his defeat,his failed government and the likelihood of paying for his crimes But his behavior in the face of that atmosphere,is a international shame That is because fools walk among us. *fools defined as : racist, homophobic, uneducated, single issue voters enamored with a narcissist.

Those are the people who view allegations on the same level as facts, especially if the claims jibe with their existing views on an issue. I have a feeling this will go down in history as The Trump Effect. People are idolizing a man over country. It's a sad and embarrassing State of Affairs for our nation.

Twitter Follower Count Trump - 88.9M Biden - 20M How does Biden get 80 million votes!?!? ELECTION FRAUD!! Its over, call it a day, sorry that it had to end this way, no reason to pretend, you knew it had to end. Just as the song goes the suspicion of electoral fraud in a big way to elect NullityBiden hovers .. but Trump is still the current president. If he has been 'scammed' by BombObama, Soros and traitors .. too bad for him !! Attention, he could still do as Erdogan but it takes courage😎

Because trump is just a Liar. Yeah of course realDonaldTrump supporters believe all the lies that clown says. The biggest con artist in history. These people who still believe the lies that the trumpeans are pushing are Trump/Putin followers and their only purpose here is to disrupt our Constitutional believes.

prioritiesUSA simple you can’t fix tRUmp (stupid) too sad to be laughable in a democracy! Because they have been fucking brainwashed by cockroach dictator tyrant Trumps rhetoric so they drink the cool aid If anyone should open their eyes it's the people who believe Trump. They really are living in the dark

Fake News 🥱🥱🥱🥱 yawning MAKE SCIENCE GREAT AGAIN👩‍🔬 🔬science Forget this election. The GOP should be thinking about the next one. Moderates thought they could split their vote between Biden at the top and the GOP down ballot. If the GOP only upholds democratic processes for half their ballot, where will moderates vote next time?

They need to let go of their hate and get a grip on reality! We aren't done with you. ABC. Peddlers of conspiracy theories such as The Great Russia Collusion Conspiracy of 2016. Newsroom full of self righteous pricks... The house is flipping Republican. FlipThatHouse They blindly follow this mad man. Yupper.. Smartmatic. Manila criminal complaint.. Same software provider to?...

“I love the poorly educated.” — Donald Trump What like 'Russian Collusion'? Because Trump’s followers are gullible Fact: Biden voters have absolutely no problem with American election servers being outside the United States. This is indisputable fact.