Media Source, Selective Exposure, and Susceptibility to False Information
44 Pages Posted: 13 Sep 2017
Date Written: September 9, 2017
We investigate citizens' perceptions of ideological bias in the media and their selective exposure to ideologically congenial sources when the news contains false information. 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). We then measured the participants' perceived accuracy of the information and their interest in reading the rest of the article. We find that while the effects of news source are mixed, information content has consistently large effects. Contrary to the common claim that American people have low confidence in the media, they tend to believe news stories irrespective of their source and of whether they contain false information. They also tend to exhibit a stronger interest in reading more when the article excerpt provides false -- and more surprising -- information, regardless of source.
Keywords: media bias, hostile media effect, selective exposure, misinformation
JEL Classification: L82, D72, D80, D83, D91
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation