How Fake Is Your News?: Investigating the Consequences of the Veracity of Political Information
2019 American Democracy Fellowship
Concerns about political misinformation persist among scholars, journalists, politicians, and the public alike. As a result, research on misinformation is booming. A feature of the vast majority of studies of misinformation’s effect on individuals is that stimuli are classified as either wholly true or wholly false. However, in the real-world information environment, information about politics and news is not only true or false, but many pieces of information lie somewhere in the middle. This gradation in veracity has been captured by fact-checking organizations (e.g., The Washington Post’s Pinocchio scale, PolitiFact’s pants-on-fire scale), but the specific effects of misinformation at different levels of veracity remain untested. In this project, I operationalize a spectrum of veracity for misinformation by manipulating numbers contained within politically-relevant facts (e.g., immigration numbers, economic statistics) and testing how those manipulations affect participants.