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Triggered Suspicion: How to Minimize Unintended Consequences of Fact-checking

Partially supported by a NULab Seedling Grant.

While prior research has extensively tested the effectiveness of fact-checking, the focus has been almost exclusively on the intended outcomes – whether fact-checking reduces beliefs in misconception or intentions to share misinformation (see Walter et al., 2020). However, in the real-life setting, it is also possible fact-checking triggers the public’s suspicion of new information across-the-board, even toward accurate information. Distrust in accurate information is as dangerous, if not more, as trust in false information. 

In this light, the current study examines (a) how fact-checking messages influence individuals’ perception of incoming information and (b) how deception bias, if any, influences people’s attitudes, perceptions, and behaviors. By elucidating long-overlooked but equally important outcomes of fact-checking, this project aims to enhance our understanding of the fact-checking effects and seek ways to limit unintended side effects of fact-checking. 

Principal Investigator

Myojung Chung, Faculty, Journalism

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