Professor Brendan Nyhan publishes with undergrads

Along with 15 Dartmouth College undergraduates, Professor Brendan Nyhan recently published "Counting the Pinocchios: The effect of summary fact-checking data on perceived accuracy and favorability of politicians." The article appears in the July-September 2019 issue of Research and Politics.

"Counting the Pinocchios" was a class project from Professor Nyhan's 2016 Experiments in Politics seminar. Students in this course, which is cross-listed between Dartmouth's Program in Quantitative Social Science and Department of Government, work with Nyhan in a lab-style format to design, field, and analyze an experimental study of political misperceptions.

Professor Nyhan regularly teaches Experiments in Politics. Previously published articles from the course are, "Classified or Coverup? The Effect of Redactions on Conspiracy Theory Beliefs" and "Real Solutions for Fake News? Measuring the Effectiveness of General Warnings and Fact-Check Banners in Reducing Belief in False Stories on Social Media." Research in this seminar has been supported by Dartmouth Undergraduate Advising and Research and the Dartmouth Center for the Advancement of Learning.

Professor Nyhan serves on the QSS Steering Committee. Among the co-authors of "Counting the Pinocchios" are Alexander Agadjanian '18 (QSS / Government double major); Ray Lu '18 (QSS Minor), Annie Ma ‘17 (QSS Minor), and Clara Wang ’17 (QSS Minor).

The abstract of "Counting the Pinocchios" is as follows:

Can the media effectively hold politicians accountable for making false claims? Journalistic fact-checking assesses the accuracy of individual public statements by public officials, but less is known about whether this process effectively imposes reputational costs on misinformation-prone politicians who repeatedly make false claims. This study therefore explores the effects of exposure to summaries of fact-check ratings, a new format that presents a more comprehensive assessment of politician statement accuracy over time. Across three survey experiments, we compared the effects of negative individual statement ratings and summary fact-checking data on favorability and perceived statement accuracy of two prominent elected officials. As predicted, summary fact-checking had a greater effect on politician perceptions than individual fact-checking. Notably, we did not observe the expected pattern of motivated reasoning: co-partisans were not consistently more resistant than supporters of the opposition party. Our findings suggest that summary fact-checking is particularly effective at holding politiciansaccountable for misstatements.

Monday, August 19, 2019