The Message Matters: The Influence of Fact-Checking on Evaluations of Political Messages

Amanda Wintersieck, Kim Fridkin, Patrick Kenney

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

3 Scopus citations

Abstract

Fact-checks have become prolific in U.S. campaigns over the last ten years. As a result, fact-checks have become one of the easiest ways for individuals to analyze the truthfulness of politicians’ statements. The increase in both fact-checking and its accessibility to voters led us to ask whether fact-checks influence individuals’ attitudes and evaluations of political candidates and campaign messages. To examine the impact of fact-checking, we conduct two original experiments using the 2012 Ohio Senate race between Republican challenger Josh Mandel and Democratic incumbent Sherrod Brown. The first experiment utilized a sample of over 300 students during the fall of 2013. The second experiment is a crowdsourced Amazon Mechanical Turk Sample in the fall of 2014. We find the content of fact-check messages are influential in altering assessments of candidates’ advertisements. We also find the source of the fact-check only modestly impacts assessments. The findings illustrate the potential power of fact-checks to influence the effectiveness of candidates’ messages and reaffirm the important role the news media plays in validating candidate claims and arguments during political campaigns.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-28
Number of pages28
JournalJournal of Political Marketing
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - Apr 24 2018

Keywords

  • election campaign
  • fact-checking
  • media effects
  • negativity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Marketing

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