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
Date Written: June 14, 2018
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: Suggested Citation