Fact-checking research

The American Press Institute is the sponsor of several research projects that examine the effectiveness of fact-checking, best practices, and future needs. Published findings include the growth and influence of fact-checking, the amount of misinformation on Twitter, American’s common misperceptions and how to correct them, and how politicians react to fact-checking. Read API’s full studies on fact-checking below, and see our directory of the other scholars‘ fact-checking and accountability research from around the world.

The practice of fact-checking journalism is growing dramatically in the United States.

The Diffusion of Fact-checking: Understanding the growth of a journalistic innovation.” Lucas Graves, University of Wisconsin; Brendan Nyhan, Dartmouth College; Jason Reifler, University of Exeter. April 2015. Summary.

Fact-checking proved to be influential and popular in this study conducted over the 2014 presidential campaign.

Estimating Fact-checking’s Effects: Evidence from a long-term experiment during campaign 2014.” Brendan Nyhan, Dartmouth College; Jason Reifler, University of Exeter. April 2015. Summary.

rating scales
A fact check is an effective tool for correcting misinformation, whether or not it employs a “rating scale.”

A Comparison of Correction Formats: The Effectiveness and Effects of Rating Scale versus Contextual Corrections on Misinformation.” Michelle A. Amazeen, Rider University; Emily Thorson, George Washington University; Ashley Muddiman, University of Wyoming; Lucas Graves, University of Wisconsin. Feb. 2015. Summary.

correcting misperceptions
Many Americans are “confident” in misperceptions, Republican and Democrat alike, but can be corrected. Misperceptions likely occur when respondents attempt to “fill in the blanks” about complex policy issues. However, presenting respondents with corrected information can substantially reduce misperceptions, even long-term.

Identifying and Correcting Policy Misperceptions.” Emily Thorson, George Washington University. April 2015. Summary.  Recommendations for journalists.

False information on Twitter overpowers efforts to correct it by a ratio of about 3 to 1. Research measured by algorithmic technology to collect a sample of nearly 100,000 tweets relating to the Ebola scare or Obamacare.

Fact-checking on Twitter: An examination of campaign 2014.” Andrew M. Guess, Columbia University. Summary. 

politicians response
Politicians’ most common tactic is to anticipate the fact-checks when crafting their messages, while also using fact-checks as ammunition for attacks.

‘Fact Check This’: How U.S. politics adapts to media scrutiny.” Mark Stencel, former NPR managing editor for digital and a former Congressional Quarterly managing editor, for API. Summary.


Meet the Fact-Checking Project Scholars

FCP_blackWhat is the Fact-Checking Project? Learn more, and tell us how we can help you
The American Press Institute’s Fact-Checking Project aims to improve and expand political and accountability journalism, especially during the 2016 elections.