Nadia M. Brashier, Gordon Pennycook, A. Berinsky, David G. Rand
Providing fact-checks after headlines improved subsequent truth discernment more than providing the same information during (labeling) or before (prebunking) exposure.
Countering misinformation can reduce belief in the moment, but corrective messages quickly fade from memory. We tested whether the longer-term impact of fact-checks depends on when people receive them. In two experiments (total N = 2,683), participants read true and false headlines taken from social media. In the treatment conditions, “true” and “false” tags appeared before, during, or after participants read each headline. Participants in a control condition received no information about veracity. One week later, participants in all conditions rated the same headlines’ accuracy. Providing fact-checks after headlines (debunking) improved subsequent truth discernment more than providing the same information during (labeling) or before (prebunking) exposure. This finding informs the cognitive science of belief revision and has practical implications for social media platform designers.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Brashier, N.M., Pennycook, G., Berinsky, A.J., & Rand, D.G. (2021). Timing matters when correcting fake news. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 118.
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