A recent study by the University of Sydney has shown that misleading headlines can hurt the reputation of businesses, while the same misleading headlines could be used to help people find out what information is on their smartphones.
The study, published in the Journal of Marketing Research, found that headlines that read “We are the most trusted brand in Australia” can have a negative impact on trust in businesses, which could lead to people losing confidence in those businesses.
The authors also found that headline information could increase people’s sense of self-worth and increase negative attitudes towards brands.
“The results of the study show that when headlines are written in a misleading way, their impact on the perception of trust in a brand can be significantly different to what it would be if the headline were neutral,” the authors said.
The researchers surveyed a sample of 3,000 Australians between January and March 2016.
“Our findings show that misleading information about brand safety can lead to a rise in people’s perceived trust in brands, as well as to their perceptions of trustworthiness and reliability,” the researchers said.
“These perceptions can lead individuals to make less informed decisions about brands.
It also increases the chances that consumers will be less likely to trust brands, even if they are reputable and safe.”
The study also found the more misleading the headline, the more people were likely to see it as “more trustworthy”.
“We find that consumers are less likely than their peers to report the news of a company’s safety as being ‘more trustworthy’,” the authors wrote.
The research also found a correlation between the amount of misleading information in headlines and people’s perceptions of brand safety.
“When the headline includes information that could be misleading, people report more trust in the company and are less inclined to report negative reviews or comments,” the study said.
It was not clear whether the study was representative of the Australian population.
A spokesperson for the University said it did not comment on the accuracy of research.
The ABC contacted Facebook for comment, but did not receive a response by time of publication.