The effectiveness of short-format refutational fact-checks

Ullrich K.H. Ecker, Ziggy O'Reilly, Jesse S. Reid, Ee Pin Chang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Fact-checking has become an important feature of the modern media landscape. However, it is unclear what the most effective format of fact-checks is. Some have argued that simple retractions that repeat a false claim and tag it as false may backfire because they boost the claim's familiarity. More detailed refutations may provide a more promising approach, but may not be feasible under the severe space constraints associated with social-media communication. In two experiments, we tested whether (1) simple ‘false-tag’ retractions can indeed be ineffective or harmful; and (2) short-format (140-character) refutations are more effective than simple retractions. Regarding (1), simple retractions reduced belief in false claims, and we found no evidence for a familiarity-driven backfire effect. Regarding (2), short-format refutations were found to be more effective than simple retractions after a 1-week delay but not a one-day delay. At both delays, however, they were associated with reduced misinformation-congruent reasoning.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages19
JournalBritish Journal of Psychology
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 2 Mar 2019

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Communication
Social Media
Recognition (Psychology)
Refutation
Familiarity
Tag
Experiment
Repeats

Cite this

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The effectiveness of short-format refutational fact-checks. / Ecker, Ullrich K.H.; O'Reilly, Ziggy; Reid, Jesse S.; Chang, Ee Pin.

In: British Journal of Psychology, 02.03.2019.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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AU - O'Reilly, Ziggy

AU - Reid, Jesse S.

AU - Chang, Ee Pin

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