ICES Seminar in Experimental Economics and Game Theory

Sustained exposure to fact-checks can inoculate citizens against misinformation in the Global South

Friday, September 16, 2022 12:00 PM to 1:00 PM EDT
Vernon Smith Hall (formerly Metropolitan Building), 5183

ICES Seminar in Experimental Economics and Game Theory

The ICES Seminar in Experimental Economics and Game Theory of the Fall 2022 semester will feature:

Horacio Larreguy

Instituto Tecnológico Autónomo de México (ITAM)

Sustained exposure to fact-checks can inoculate citizens against misinformation in the Global South

 

 

Abstract

We evaluate whether sustained exposure to fact-checks reduces citizens’ susceptibility to misinformation and, in turn, promotes accurate beliefs that guide informed behaviors. In partnership with a major fact-checking organization in South Africa, we evaluated a six-month intervention that delivered biweekly fact-checks via WhatsApp. Experimental estimates show that the intervention increased participants’ capacity to discern true from false news and doubt conspiracy theories, and reduced their propensity to share social media posts. In line with inoculation theories, sustained access to fact-checks increased awareness of how to verify information and reduced trust in social media content, but had little effect on media consumption behaviors or active efforts to verify information. Our post-intervention surveys suggest that some modes of regular fact-check delivery shifted attitudes and behaviors connected to common targets of misinformation: these treated participants took more precautions against COVID-19 and increased their trust in, and appraisal of, their government. Leveraging variation in the mode of delivery, we find that the results are primarily driven by treatment variants that delivered fact-checks as a text message or an empathetic podcast. These findings show that sustained and scalable fact-checks can inoculate citizens upon exposure to misinformation and reduce its spread, while also highlighting the difficulties of changing citizens’ consumption and verification behaviors.

 

For more information about the Seminar Series, please visit the Seminar Schedule homepage.

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