Study of the Week: A post-truth public?

Study of the Week: A post-truth public?

Posted on behalf of ESSEXLab

Are you ready for an enriching, educational experience with ESSEXLab?

ESSEXLab's Study of the Week series is an informal, friendly, discussion-based learning environment where everyone has a say. Its sole purpose is to encourage interest in the methods and approaches used in experimental social science research. On a weekly basis, Lab Assistants and academics from the University of Essex's various social science departments present and facilitate a lively discussion on interesting research projects/articles they come across.

This week's paper, by John Bartle, Rob Johns, and Christine Stedtnitz (all of the University of Essex), investigates the mechanisms of resistance to factual correction. It will be presented by Christine Stedtnitz herself, a PhD student at the University of Essex's Department of Government. Abstract below:

"Many recent electoral events have been characterised by false claims which, despite abundant fact-checking, were often widely believed. This led to much talk about a 'post-truth' politics. Meanwhile, an extensive literature confirms that political misperceptions are often highly resistant to correction. The drivers of that resistance are well-known: citizens are prone to accept as fact those claims that confirm their prior beliefs and attitudes, and dismiss claims that challenge them. But how far does that tendency stretch, and is there any evidence that it has created something of a 'post-truth' public? We explore these questions using a representative-sample survey experiment in Britain (N=2,000) concerning common misperceptions – on both the liberal and conservative side – about immigration. It goes beyond a standard misperception-correction experiment in two ways. First, there is a subsequent ‘counter-correction’ phase in which citizens are offered fact-free arguments to reassert their incorrect belief. We test for the impact of these and whether it is moderated by the credibility of the source and the content of the correction. Second, we then ask questions explicitly testing for a post-truth mindset: do respondents accept the notion of ‘alternative facts’ or designate factual claims as matters of opinion?"

Are you an ESSEXLab volunteer? 

Come to this Study of the Week session to gain 1 volunteering hour, which will go towards your Big Essex Award! You do not have to get a ticket to attend.

Image credit: Red de Investigación experimental en Ciencia Política, Universitat de Barcelona

16 May 2019 at 5:00pm
until 16 May 2019 at 6:00pm
University of Essex

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