Taking Corrections Literally But Not Seriously? The Effects of Information on Factual Beliefs and Candidate Favorability

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Nyhan, Brendan ; Porter, Ethan ; Reifler, Jason ; Wood, Thomas
Elsevier BV
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article description
Are citizens willing to accept fact-checks of false or unsupported claims of candidates they support in the heat of a political campaign? Previous studies have reached conflicting conclusions about people’s willingness to update their factual beliefs in response to counter-attitudinal information. To discriminate between these findings, we conducted two experiments during the 2016 presidential campaign. Our results indicate that correcting misleading claims that Donald Trump made during his convention speech and in the first general election debate reduced belief in the claims in question even among his supporters. However, attitudes toward Trump were not affected. These results suggest that corrective information can reduce misperceptions, but will often have minimal effects on candidate evaluations or vote choice.