Partisan Motivated Reasoning and Misinformation in the Media: Is News from Ideologically Uncongenial Sources More Suspicious?

30 Pages Posted: 13 Sep 2017 Last revised: 21 Jun 2018

Katherine Clayton

Dartmouth College

Jase Davis

Dartmouth College

Kristen Hinckley

Dartmouth College

Yusaku Horiuchi

Dartmouth College - Department of Government

Date Written: June 14, 2018

Abstract

When people encounter "ambiguous" information in the news, which may or may not be true, do they become more suspicious if it is from an ideologically uncongenial news outlet? In a survey experiment, we presented study participants with a news article excerpt that varied by source shown (CNN, Fox News, or no source) and content (true or false information), and measured their perceived accuracy of the information contained in the article. Our results suggest that participants do not blindly judge the content of articles based on news source, regardless of their own partisanship and ideology. Contrary to prevailing views on the polarization and politicization of news outlets, as well as on American voters' growing propensity to engage in "partisan motivated reasoning," source cues are not as important as the information itself for partisans on both sides of the spectrum.

Keywords: motivated reasoning, source cues, media bias, misinformation, misperceptions, Trump

JEL Classification: L82, D72, D80, D83, D91

Suggested Citation

Clayton, Katherine and Davis, Jase and Hinckley, Kristen and Horiuchi, Yusaku, Partisan Motivated Reasoning and Misinformation in the Media: Is News from Ideologically Uncongenial Sources More Suspicious? (June 14, 2018). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3035272 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3035272

Katherine Clayton

Dartmouth College ( email )

Hinman Box 3936
Dartmouth College
Hanover, NH 03755
United States

Jase Davis

Dartmouth College ( email )

Hanover, NH 03755
United States

Kristen Hinckley

Dartmouth College ( email )

Hanover, NH 03755
United States

Yusaku Horiuchi (Contact Author)

Dartmouth College - Department of Government ( email )

204 Silsby Hall
HB 6108
Hanover, NH 03755
United States

HOME PAGE: http://sites.dartmouth.edu/horiuchi/

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