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An international collaboration has investigated how people perceive politicians when they spread misinformation. The research found supporters of the politicians reduced their belief in misinformation once corrected, yet their feelings towards the political figure remained unchanged if misinformation was presented alongside an equal number of facts.
Following the 2016 presidential election, 88 percent of Americans reported that fake news had caused confusion about basic facts regarding current events. The study of political misinformation, between the University of Bristol, Northeastern University, University of Western Australia and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), is published in the journal Political Psychology.
Research - Team - People - Misinformation - Correction
In previous research, the team found that even if people acknowledge that misinformation is incorrect after a correction has been presented, their feelings towards the source of the misinformation can remain unchanged. The current study extended this research to explore whether disproportionately more false than true statements changed people's feelings towards either Republican or Democratic politicians.
The researchers presented US participants false and true statements from either Donald Trump or Bernie Sanders. Participants then received fact-checks as to whether items were true or false, and rerated both their belief in the statements as well as their feelings towards the candidate.
The study found:
Both Trump and Sanders conditions revealed similar trends.
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