Fact-Checking: A Meta-Analysis of What Works and for Whom

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Abstract

Despite its growing prominence in news coverage and public discourse, there is still considerable ambiguity regarding when and how fact-checking affects beliefs. Informed by theories of motivated reasoning and message design, a meta-analytic review was undertaken to examine the effectiveness of fact-checking in correcting political misinformation (k = 30,N = 20,963). Fact-checking has a significantly positive overall influence on political beliefs (d = 0.29), but the effects gradually weaken when using “truth scales,” refuting only parts of a claim, and fact-checking campaign-related statements. Likewise, the ability to correct political misinformation with fact-checking is substantially attenuated by participants’ preexisting beliefs, ideology, and knowledge. The study concludes with a discussion of the fact-checking literature in light of current gaps and future opportunities.

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Walter, N., Cohen, J., Holbert, R. L., & Morag, Y. (2020). Fact-Checking: A Meta-Analysis of What Works and for Whom. Political Communication, 37(3), 350–375. https://doi.org/10.1080/10584609.2019.1668894

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