Pictures are Worth Many Words: Effectiveness of Visual Communication in Dispelling the Rent–Control Misconception
51 Pages Posted: 8 Mar 2022
The popular belief that rent–control leads to an increase in the amount of affordable housingis in contradiction with ample empirical evidence and congruent theoretical explanations.It can therefore be qualified as a misconception. We present the results of a preregisteredon–line experiment in which we study how to dispel this misconception using a refutationalapproach both in a video and in a text format. Communication in a video format comes closerto how citizens are typically exposed to information. We find that the refutational video hasa significantly higher positive impact on revising the misconception than a refutational text,an effect that is driven by the departure from the misconception by individuals who initiallyagreed with it. The refutational text, in turn, does not have a significant impact relative toa non–refutational baseline text. Higher cognitive reflective ability positively affects the impacton beliefs of all interventions. Our research shows that visual communication effectivelyreduces the gap between scientific economic knowledge and the views of citizens.
Keywords: misconceptions, policy beliefs, communication, refutation, online experiments
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