Confirmation bias

Poynter Results

  • People with low critical thinking skills are more likely to believe fake news

    In this study, the authors wanted to know whether or not people share fake news because it confirms their own partisan ideology or because of low critical thinking. To test that, they operationalized two studies with a total of 3,446 Mechanical Turk respondents, using the Cognitive Reflection Test (CRT) to measure each subject's analysis skills. Participants were asked whether they preferred Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton and then shown a variety of fake and real news items about each party. Researchers found that the better participants did on the CRT, the less likely they were to believe that a fake news story was real — even when the article conformed to their own beliefs.

    Study Title
    Lazy, not biased: Susceptibility to partisan fake news is better explained by lack of reasoning than by motivated reasoning
    Study Publication Date
    Study Authors
    Gordon Pennycook, David G. Rand
    Journal
    Cognition
    Peer Reviewed
    Yes
    Sample
    Non-representative
    Inferential approach
    Experimental
    Number of studies citing
    0
  • Fact-checking corrects misperceptions but doesn't affect votes

    This study looks at the effect of partisanship on the likelihood of accepting a factual correction. In two separate studies, four true and four false claims by Donald Trump were presented to a sample of Democrats, non-Trump supporting Republicans and Trump-supporting Republicans. The researchers found that (a) attributing a claim to Trump made his supporters believe it more (b) correcting a Trump falsehood made *all* respondents believe it less, regardless of their political preferences and (c) that the corrections had no effect on voting preferences.

    Study Title
    Processing political misinformation: comprehending the Trump phenomenon
    Study Publication Date
    Study Authors
    Briony Swire, Adam J. Berinsky, Stephan Lewandowsky, Ullrich K. H. Ecker
    Journal
    Royal Society of Open Science
    Peer Reviewed
    Yes
  • The "backfire effect" fails the replication test

    The "backfire effect" is a cognitive bias detected in a 2010 study ("When corrections fail: The persistence of political misperceptions") suggesting that sometimes factual corrections increase — rather than decrease — misperceptions among a target group. This study sought to replicate those findings on a larger sample of respondents and more topics, but failed. Across topics and the political spectrum, belief in false claims was reduced on average at every presentation of a correction. The authors conclude that "By and large, citizens heed factual information, even when such information challenges their partisan and ideological commitments. "

    Study Title
    The Elusive Backfire Effect: Mass Attitudes' Steadfast Factual Adherence
    Study Publication Date
    Study Authors
    Thomas Wood, Ethan Porter
    Journal
    SSRN
    Peer Reviewed
    Yes
 
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