According to two recent studies, giving people corrective information about economic and political issues helps change their inaccurate views — in spite of partisan beliefs. This research joins other recent publications to find that people are not impossible to fact-check.
The academic articles tackle the efficacy of corrections in two separate contexts: economic opinions in the United Kingdom and historical misperceptions about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
The most recent study, co-authored by Brendan Nyhan at Dartmouth College and Thomas Zeitzoff at American University, seeks to explain whether or not corrective information affects the views Jewish Israelis hold about the conflict with Palestine.
“We wanted to see why people believe these misperceptions and how effective corrective information might be in changing people’s minds,” Nyhan, a government professor at Dartmouth, told Poynter. “We were also interested whether feelings of a lack of control could contribute to beliefs in historical misperceptions, especially those with conspiratorial flavor.”
To do that, Nyhan and Zeitzoff randomized an experiment in which an online sample of 2,170 Jewish Israelis ages 18 or older either received solely an extremist message, which denied Israeli wrongdoing in the 1948 Palestinian exodus, or that message plus corrective information about the conflict.
They also randomized participants’ feelings of high or low control by supplying them with different writing prompts in order to see how psychology affects the strength of misperceptions. Participants were asked to write brief essays about times when they felt they had a lot or little control over events. The hypothesis was
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