Limited effects of exposure to fake news about climate change

Caitlin Drummond, Michael Siegrist, Joseph Árvai

Research output: Contribution to journalLetterpeer-review

Abstract

The spread of ‘fake news,’ information that mimics credible reporting in format but not in content or intent, poses potential threats to public health and democracy by misinforming citizens. Understanding whether and how fake news influences individuals’ policy-relevant beliefs and decisions is needed to inform policies and practices to address it. In a preregistered experiment, we ask how exposure to fake climate news casting doubt on the existence of climate change influences individuals’ expressed belief in climate change, their estimate of the scientific consensus regarding it, and their overall trust in scientists. We find little effect of exposure to fake climate news on any of our three dependent variables. Effect sizes associated with exposure were very small, and demographics and political ideology were stronger predictors of beliefs. Our findings suggest exposure to fake climate news is unlikely to strongly influence climate skepticism.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number081003
JournalEnvironmental Research Communications
Volume2
Issue number8
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 2020
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Climate change
  • Fake news
  • Misinformation
  • Science communication

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Atmospheric Science
  • Earth-Surface Processes
  • Geology
  • Food Science
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences (miscellaneous)

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