Political Behavior

, Volume 32, Issue 2, pp 303–330

When Corrections Fail: The Persistence of Political Misperceptions

Original Paper

DOI: 10.1007/s11109-010-9112-2

Cite this article as:
Nyhan, B. & Reifler, J. Polit Behav (2010) 32: 303. doi:10.1007/s11109-010-9112-2

Abstract

An extensive literature addresses citizen ignorance, but very little research focuses on misperceptions. Can these false or unsubstantiated beliefs about politics be corrected? Previous studies have not tested the efficacy of corrections in a realistic format. We conducted four experiments in which subjects read mock news articles that included either a misleading claim from a politician, or a misleading claim and a correction. Results indicate that corrections frequently fail to reduce misperceptions among the targeted ideological group. We also document several instances of a “backfire effect” in which corrections actually increase misperceptions among the group in question.

Keywords

MisperceptionsMisinformationIgnoranceKnowledgeCorrectionBackfire

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Public HealthUniversity of MichiganAnn ArborUSA
  2. 2.Department of Political ScienceGeorgia State UniversityAtlantaUSA