Electoral campaigns are dynamic and an important change in recent elections is the growth of fact-checking; the assessment of the truthfulness of political advertisements by news media organizations and watchdog groups. In this article, we examine the role that fact-checks play in shaping citizens’ views of negative commercials and political candidates. We rely on an Internet survey experiment where we vary people’s exposure to negative advertisements and a follow-up fact-check article (i.e., no fact-check, accurate fact-check, inaccurate fact-check). The results of our experiment show that fact-checks influence people’s assessments of the accuracy, usefulness, and tone of negative political ads. Furthermore, sophisticated citizens and citizens with low tolerance for negative campaigning are most responsive to fact-checks. The fact-checks also sway citizens’ likelihood of accepting the claims made in the advertisements. Finally, negative fact-checks (e.g., fact-checks challenging the truthfulness of the claims of the negative commercial) are more powerful than positive fact-checks.
- negative campaigning
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Sociology and Political Science