Fighting Fake News and Post-Truth Politics with Behavioral Science: The Pro-Truth Pledge
Behavior and Social Issues, Forthcoming
33 Pages Posted: 12 Mar 2018 Last revised: 24 Jun 2018
Date Written: March 11, 2018
We have witnessed an alarming deterioration of truth in democracies around the globe, especially in the political arena. This paper describes a proposed intervention, the Pro-Truth Pledge, which combines behavioral science research with crowd-sourcing to help address this problem. The pledge asks signers – private citizens and public figures – to commit to 12 behaviors that research in behavioral science shows correlate with an orientation toward truthfulness. Pledge mechanisms like this one have been shown in other contexts to lead private citizens to engage in more pro-social behavior. For public figures, the pledge offers specific incentives to stick to the pledge, with rewards in the form of positive reputation for honesty and truth-telling, and accountability through evaluation and potential punishment for deception. Two studies conducted on the pledge have demonstrated its effectiveness in getting private citizens to share less misinformation on social media. The pledge thus appears as an effective intervention in addressing at least some of the problems caused by fake news and post-truth politics.
Keywords: Deception, Post-Truth Politics, Post-Truth, Pro-Social Behavior, Fake News, Alternative Facts, Social Media, False News, Elections, Truth, Facts, Facebook, Twitter, Digital Media
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