Readers often intend to verify the news if they believe the headline is true, a recent study has found.
The researchers conducted a web-based survey on U.S. adults in July 2017 through a sample provided by the survey company Qualtrics. A total of 841 participants, between 18 to 75 years old, took the survey and shared their thoughts about verifying news.
The study was conducted by Stephanie Edgerly, an associate professor at Northwestern University; Rachel R. Mourão, an assistant professor at Michigan State University; Esther Thorson, a professor at Michigan State University; and Samuel M. Tham, an assistant professor at the University of Tampa.
The credibility of sources also plays a significant role in readers’ intention to verify the news. The source credulity has a positive relationship with the intent to verify.
The researchers gave both “true” and “false” headlines to readers and experimented on them, and they found the positive correlation with the source’s credibility and intent to check the information. “The more credible a source is perceived to be, the more willing respondents were to verify the content,” the study stated.
Readers also tend to verify when they “perceive a headline as congruent with their political identity,” according to the study.
Edgerly, S., Mourão, R. R., Thorson, E., & Tham, S. M. (2019). When Do Audiences Verify? How Perceptions About Message and Source Influence Audience Verification of News Headlines. Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly, 1077699019864680.