This website provides an overview of a 5-year NSF-funded research project led by Kelly Garrett examining the flow of rumors and misperceptions online. It includes information about the project, the research team, publications, and will eventually also include relevant datasets. There is also a Twitter feed associated with the project, which aims to track relevant news and research (#FalseBeliefNews).
Ariel Hasell and Brian Weeks have a new grant-supported paper in press at Human Communication Research. The title of the paper is “Partisan Provocation: The Role of Partisan News Use and Emotional Responses in Political Information Sharing in Social Media” and an abstract follows:
Citizens increasingly rely on social media to consume and disseminate news and information about politics, but the factors that drive political information sharing on these sites are not well understood. This study focused on how online partisan news use influences political information sharing in part because of the distinct negative emotions it arouses in its audience. Using panel survey data collected during the 2012 U.S. presidential election, we found that use of pro-attitudinal partisan news online is associated with increased anger, but not anxiety, directed at the opposing party’s presidential candidate and that anger subsequently facilitated information sharing about the election on social media. The results suggest partisan media may drive online information sharing by generating anger in its audience.
A brief article that I wrote about conspiracy theories for The Conversation was picked up Newsweek and Business Insider.
Congratulations to my student Rachel Neo on the (electronic) publication of her sole-authored article, “Favoritism or Animosity? Examining How SNS Network Homogeneity Influences Vote Choice via Affective Mechanisms” in the International Journal of Public Opinion Research. As the title suggests, the paper examines how online social network composition shapes citizens’ feelings toward political candidates, and how this impacts vote choice. The work uses data collected as part of the NSF award funding this project. The article is available for download here:
My collaboration with Erik Nisbet and Kathryn Cooper has been published. In the article we tackle the common misperception that conservatives are uniquely resistant to scientifically accurate information. We use an online experiment to demonstrate that both liberals and conservatives tend to be skeptical of science claims that don’t sit well with their politics, and that reading such claims reduces their trust in the scientific community more generally.
Rachel Neo’s paper, “Examining the Influence of SNS Network Homogeneity on Actual Voting Behavior Via Affective Responses toward In and Out-Group Presidential Candidates As Intervening Variables” was named one of four Top Student Papers in the Political Communication Division of the National Communication Association. Although not related to misperceptions, the paper relied on data collected by this project.
The APSA Political Communication section has awarded Brian Weeks’ paper “Feeling is Believing? The Influence of Emotions on Citizens’ False Political Beliefs” the Timothy Cook Best Graduate Student Paper Award for the 2013 APSA. Brian, who recently defended his PhD, has been a long-time member of this research team, and his paper is part of a larger research program examining the role of discrete emotions on the processing of political misperceptions.
Emotions shape people’s beliefs. People who are angry are more likely to be biased, which can make them more susceptible to misperceptions. A recently published study coming out of this project suggests that partisan media are contributing to rising levels of hostility between citizen who disagree politically. The study used survey data collected in the US and Israel to show that more frequent exposure to politically slanted news sites lead to stronger dislike toward supports of the opposed party.
Full article: dx.doi.org/10.1111/hcre.12028
Brian Weeks and I have had a paper accepted at the International Journal of Public Opinion Research that examines how political misperceptions can influence vote choice. We argue that rumor isn’t idle talk, but has real-world consequences. Email one of us if you’d like to see a prepress copy of the manuscript.
Update: The paper is now available online and in print: dx.doi.org/10.1093/ijpor/edu005