What Drives People’s Political Bias in Processing Fake News? The Favourable Message or the Favourable Messenger?
Dorp, L.M. van
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Fake news spreads rapidly, forming an increasing problem in digital environments. Because of the concerns, lots of research has been conducted on fake news. The question remains which elements of fake news make it believable. This is applicable specifically within politics. Research has demonstrated that people have a political bias when processing news information. However, it is not clear what drives this bias in processing fake news, the favourable message or the favourable messenger? An experimental study was conducted at a university of applied sciences, using political fake and real news headlines (left and right sources), and two politicians who share these headlines (left-wing and right-wing). Results showed a significant main effect of headline on accuracy, with an interaction effect between headline and political preference, indicating that students perceive politically consistent content as more accurate than politically non-consistent content. There was no significant effect for politician. Furthermore, CRT and truth discernment did not show a significant correlation. Results add to the literature that the message had more effect than the messenger, and future research can investigate this by designing different kind of message formats to further investigate this.