The 10 Personality Traits Of People Who Actually Think For Themselves — And Don’t Fall For Misinformation

These traits are few and far between.

woman and books Oladimeji Odunsi and Sincerely Media via Unsplash / Sketchify, sparklestroke and Ibnu Hasan via Canva

Information that turns out to be false — a rumor from college, an Instagram story of the newest infographic or a video from TikTok’s newest health guru — could be vehicles for misinformation. Behind the painfully simple definition is a devastating discussion as misinformation has ingrained itself into every aspect of our society. 

So, who are the people enabling misinformation and its widespread grasp? More importantly, who are the people actively acknowledging and disavowing it — the ones thinking for themselves? 


Most importantly, which one are you? 

Here are the ten personality traits of people least likely to fall for misinformation: 

1. They’re selfless.

Interested in the hearts and minds of the most avid misinformation fiends, psychologist Jan Philipp Rudloff worked alongside Professor Markus Appel to capture parallel personality traits in an extensive study. What they found was disheartening, yet unsurprising: Those with “dark personality traits” are more susceptible to believing and spreading misinformation. Not just for selfish personal reasons to support their own beliefs, but to actively tear down others, as well. 


The other side of the coin is selflessness. People who are aware and empathetic to the vast imaginations and beliefs of others, regardless of whether they’re different or even if they’re planning a rebuttal, give time and effort to providing space for other perspectives outside of their own. For people able to pinpoint untrustworthy narratives and sloppy headlines, empathy and selflessness are at the forefront of their personality. Instead of reactionary, they’re curious and quick to question. 

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2. They're thoughtful.

Instant digital gratification from social media has made people hostile in their reactionary state both on and offline. Immediately after an opposing thought or charming infographic is spread, people are quick to adopt or ignore it. Reactionary behavior can mean a range of different things. from piggybacking to misinterpreting. On the other hand, the people developing their own opinions and sorting out areas of misinformation that others might be quick to miss are curious and questioning. Question whether or not that news source actually says The Onion or not. Curiously consider if that “no-filter” TikTok video from your favorite influencer is actually the “beauty filter” in disguise. 

3. They’re thorough.

Hand in hand with the two above, people interested in finding truthful information and interpreting their own self-awareness in the face of shocking headlines are the most thoughtful and thorough in their research. Amidst a crowd of people sprinting toward the most gruesome headline or shockingly polarizing opinion piece, this thoughtful group is the first to take a step back. Both in their consumption and their output of information and media, they’re careful to dissect and craft arguments. They understand one of the most important pieces of life — what goes around comes around. If you’re sending fake information out, you’re only inviting ignorance back in. 


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4. They’re wary of novelties.

While it might not be so black-and-white, people most likely to fall for misinformation are those hopping on the explosive social media bandwagons. Quickly emerging punchlines and ideas with charming execution and little distractions are the first to take away people’s ability to see misinformation. 

“If Scammy Sammy tells you that an apple cider enema will give you an immediate six-pack and make you immune to cancer… People will buy it,” says @bdcarpenter on TikTok about the phenomenon. 



It takes significantly more effort to debunk false information than it does to accept and spread it — that’s why social media trends are so quick to take off. 


5. They’re not obsessed with proving their correctness or their identity. 

“We are always looking for evidence that we are right,” @andrews.blah.blah eloquently says in a recent TikTok, “of course, there’s always going to be an argument for why everyone is fake and you are the only ‘real’ person.” 



Actively searching for details and evidence for your opinion is not enough to combat misinformation — you must accept the totality of the discussion to understand it. If you believe that we never landed on the moon, but you only ever research evidence that supports that belief, you’re never going to be able to understand the whole discussion. You’re not thinking for yourself, only grasping onto narratives and tailored evidence that supports your own opinion of what’s “correct.”

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6. They practice ‘balanced reasoning’.

To put it simply, balanced reasoning is the middle ground between analyzing every last detail and going with your gut. It’s the perfect amount of deliberation on any information you take in and put out into the world (says the avid over-thinker, re-writing this sentence for the fifth time). If you think something is immediately correct because it’s your favorite creator sharing it, or perhaps you’ve found yourself overanalyzing an argument, you might be feeling a bit shaky. 

7. They avoid 'illusory truths'.

The dark truth about misinformation is that it can tear through even the most insightful, intellectual consumer. Three big factors play into how appealing a piece of misinformation looks to a consumer.

The first factor that drives the adoption of misinformation, even from the most watchful of individuals, is familiarity — ignoring a misinformed opinion because it’s one that you’ve heard before. The second is processing fluency. Simply, this is how effortlessly the consumer can take in misinformation and process it in a way that makes sense to them. Lastly, cohesion with internal information. If you encounter a poster of misinformed propaganda, with a graphic you have a strong memory of, it’s going to be much easier to internalize than something you have no connection to. 

Acknowledging these three factors and encounters with illusory truths can help foster better self-awareness and authenticity. 


8. They're appreciative of details and well-crafted narratives. 

While it’s not impossible for misinformation to spread in more well-rounded and long-form ways, typically social media outlets are the driving force of misinformed opinions. 

“Social media algorithms favor short and snappy,” @bdcarpenter says on TikTok, “and you know what isn’t short and snappy? Detail.” 

A lack of consideration for details and evidence is exactly what social media promotes — short TikTok videos catch the attention of their easily distracted audiences. Misinformation spreads like wildfire and social media only acts as gasoline.

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9. They’re humble.

Silent confidence is a gift. You don’t come across a truly humble person often, but when you do, it’s refreshing. 

To be humble is to have confidence in yourself, your mindset and your beliefs while also providing a safe space for others to express their own. To celebrate discussion and debate. Being comfortable with being “wrong” and providing space to listen to opinions others would pass on hearing — that is what being humble means. 

10. They’re clear-headed and open-minded.

Clear like crystal, open like sesame. It’s too easy to adopt these personality traits as your own. We have to have grace with ourselves, regardless if we embody the traits above because the truth is, misinformation will catch us all at one point or another. It’s not your fault, or your off-the-grid aunt’s, or even your annoying neighbors — it’s the people (or rather, institutions) using us as vehicles to spread misinformation that act as the true problem. The elite, the government and big corporations drive local divisiveness between you and your peers (and make money from doing so). 

Be kind to your neighbor regardless of if you believe they embody these traits.

Most importantly, be kind to yourself, because the truth is even people with all of these traits will fall victim to “fake news” at some point. 


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Zayda Slabbekoorn is a news and entertainment writer at YourTango focusing on pop culture analysis and human interest stories. Catch up with them on Instagram or TikTok