Displacing misinformation about events: An experimental test of causal corrections
Journal of Experimental Political Science
Cambridge University Press (CUP)
© The Experimental Research Section of the American Political Science Association 2015. This is the author accepted manuscript. The final version is available from Cambridge University Press via the DOI in this record.
Misinformation can be very difficult to correct and may have lasting effects even after it is discredited. One reason for this persistence is the manner in which people make causal inferences based on available information about a given event or outcome. As a result, false information may continue to influence beliefs and attitudes even after being debunked if it is not replaced by an alternate causal explanation. We test this hypothesis using an experimental paradigm adapted from the psychology literature on the continued influence effect and find that a causal explanation for an unexplained event is significantly more effective than a denial even when the denial is backed by unusually strong evidence. This result has significant implications for how to most effectively counter misinformation about controversial political events and outcomes.
We are grateful to Democracy Fund and the New America Foundation for funding support and to Rune Slothuus and Dannagal Young for helpful comments.
Vol. 2, No. 1, pp. 81-93