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The ephemeral effects of fact-checks on COVID-19 misperceptions in the United States, Great Britain and Canada

Carey, John M., Guess, Andrew M., Loewen, Peter J., Merkley, Eric, Nyhan, Brendan, Phillips, Joseph B., Reifler, Jason (2022) The ephemeral effects of fact-checks on COVID-19 misperceptions in the United States, Great Britain and Canada. Nature Human Behaviour, . E-ISSN 2397-3374. (doi:10.1038/s41562-021-01278-3) (KAR id:93282)

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Widespread misperceptions about COVID-19 and the novel coronavirus threaten to exacerbate the severity of the pandemic. We conducted preregistered survey experiments in the United States, Great Britain, and Canada examining the effectiveness of fact-checks that seek to correct these false or unsupported misperceptions. Across three countries with differing levels of political conflict over the COVID-19 response, we demonstrate that fact-checks reduce targeted misperceptions, especially among the groups who are most vulnerable to these claims, and have minimal spillover effects on the accuracy of other beliefs about COVID-19. However, the positive effects of fact-checks on the accuracy of respondents’ beliefs fail to persist over time in panel data even after repeated exposure. These results suggest that fact-checks can successfully change the beliefs of the people who would benefit from them most but that their effects are disappointingly ephemeral.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1038/s41562-021-01278-3
Uncontrolled keywords: COVID-19; misinformation; fact checking
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Human and Social Sciences > School of Psychology
Depositing User: Joe Phillips
Date Deposited: 22 Feb 2022 15:29 UTC
Last Modified: 03 May 2024 03:15 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

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