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Processing political misinformation: comprehending the Trump phenomenon

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

ABSTRACT

This study investigated the cognitive processing of true and false political information. Specifically, it examined the impact of source credibility on the assessment of veracity when information comes from a polarizing source (Experiment 1), and effectiveness of explanations when they come from one's own political party or an opposition party (Experiment 2). These experiments were conducted prior to the 2016 Presidential election. Participants rated their belief in factual and incorrect statements that President Trump made on the campaign trail; facts were subsequently affirmed and misinformation retracted. Participants then re-rated their belief immediately or after a delay. Experiment 1 found that (i) if information was attributed to Trump, Republican supporters of Trump believed it more than if it was presented without attribution, whereas the opposite was true for Democrats and (ii) although Trump supporters reduced their belief in misinformation items following a correction, they did not change their voting preferences. Experiment 2 revealed that the explanation's source had relatively little impact, and belief updating was more influenced by perceived credibility of the individual initially purporting the information. These findings suggest that people use political figures as a heuristic to guide evaluation of what is true or false, yet do not necessarily insist on veracity as a prerequisite for supporting political candidates.

No MeSH data available.


(a,b) Pre-explanation Democratic and Republican belief in statements associated with Trump or presented unattributed. Error bars denote 95% confidence intervals.
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RSOS160802F2: (a,b) Pre-explanation Democratic and Republican belief in statements associated with Trump or presented unattributed. Error bars denote 95% confidence intervals.

Mentions: Pre-explanation belief scores partitioned by Trump support are shown in figure 2. Figure 2a shows the misinformation, and b shows the facts. We further split the sample into those respondents who received statements without source attribution and those who received statements attributed to Trump. For both misinformation and factual statements, Trump attribution was associated with lower belief in the statements among Democrats and greater belief among Republican supporters of Trump. Among Republican non-supporters, a Trump attribution did not affect belief in the misinformation, but did reduce belief in factual statements.Figure 2.


Processing political misinformation: comprehending the Trump phenomenon
(a,b) Pre-explanation Democratic and Republican belief in statements associated with Trump or presented unattributed. Error bars denote 95% confidence intervals.
© Copyright Policy - open-access
Related In: Results  -  Collection

License
Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC5383823&req=5

RSOS160802F2: (a,b) Pre-explanation Democratic and Republican belief in statements associated with Trump or presented unattributed. Error bars denote 95% confidence intervals.
Mentions: Pre-explanation belief scores partitioned by Trump support are shown in figure 2. Figure 2a shows the misinformation, and b shows the facts. We further split the sample into those respondents who received statements without source attribution and those who received statements attributed to Trump. For both misinformation and factual statements, Trump attribution was associated with lower belief in the statements among Democrats and greater belief among Republican supporters of Trump. Among Republican non-supporters, a Trump attribution did not affect belief in the misinformation, but did reduce belief in factual statements.Figure 2.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

ABSTRACT

This study investigated the cognitive processing of true and false political information. Specifically, it examined the impact of source credibility on the assessment of veracity when information comes from a polarizing source (Experiment 1), and effectiveness of explanations when they come from one's own political party or an opposition party (Experiment 2). These experiments were conducted prior to the 2016 Presidential election. Participants rated their belief in factual and incorrect statements that President Trump made on the campaign trail; facts were subsequently affirmed and misinformation retracted. Participants then re-rated their belief immediately or after a delay. Experiment 1 found that (i) if information was attributed to Trump, Republican supporters of Trump believed it more than if it was presented without attribution, whereas the opposite was true for Democrats and (ii) although Trump supporters reduced their belief in misinformation items following a correction, they did not change their voting preferences. Experiment 2 revealed that the explanation's source had relatively little impact, and belief updating was more influenced by perceived credibility of the individual initially purporting the information. These findings suggest that people use political figures as a heuristic to guide evaluation of what is true or false, yet do not necessarily insist on veracity as a prerequisite for supporting political candidates.

No MeSH data available.