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The roles of information deficits and identity threat in the prevalence of misperceptions

The roles of information deficits and identity threat in the prevalence of misperceptions Why do so many Americans hold misperceptions? We examine two factors that contribute to the prevalence of these beliefs. First, presenting correct information should reduce misperceptions, especially if provided in a clear and compelling format. We therefore test the effect of graphical information, which may be especially effective in facilitating belief updating about changes in quantities over time. In some cases, though, people may reject information because it threatens their worldview or self-concept – a mechanism that can be revealed by affirming individuals’ self-worth, which could make them more willing to acknowledge uncomfortable facts. We test both mechanisms jointly. In three experiments, we find that providing information in graphical form reduces misperceptions. A third study shows that this effect is greater than for equivalent textual information. Our findings for self-affirmation are more equivocal. We find limited evidence that self-affirmation can help diminish misperceptions when no other information is provided, but it does not consistently increase willingness to accept corrective information as previous research in social psychology would suggest. These results suggest that misperceptions are caused by a lack of information as well as psychological threat, but that these factors may interact in ways that are not yet well understood. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png "Journal of Elections, Public Opinion and Parties" Taylor & Francis

The roles of information deficits and identity threat in the prevalence of misperceptions

The roles of information deficits and identity threat in the prevalence of misperceptions

"Journal of Elections, Public Opinion and Parties" , Volume 29 (2): 23 – Apr 3, 2019

Abstract

Why do so many Americans hold misperceptions? We examine two factors that contribute to the prevalence of these beliefs. First, presenting correct information should reduce misperceptions, especially if provided in a clear and compelling format. We therefore test the effect of graphical information, which may be especially effective in facilitating belief updating about changes in quantities over time. In some cases, though, people may reject information because it threatens their worldview or self-concept – a mechanism that can be revealed by affirming individuals’ self-worth, which could make them more willing to acknowledge uncomfortable facts. We test both mechanisms jointly. In three experiments, we find that providing information in graphical form reduces misperceptions. A third study shows that this effect is greater than for equivalent textual information. Our findings for self-affirmation are more equivocal. We find limited evidence that self-affirmation can help diminish misperceptions when no other information is provided, but it does not consistently increase willingness to accept corrective information as previous research in social psychology would suggest. These results suggest that misperceptions are caused by a lack of information as well as psychological threat, but that these factors may interact in ways that are not yet well understood.

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References (79)

Publisher
Taylor & Francis
Copyright
© 2018 Elections, Public Opinion & Parties
ISSN
1745-7297
eISSN
1745-7289
DOI
10.1080/17457289.2018.1465061
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Why do so many Americans hold misperceptions? We examine two factors that contribute to the prevalence of these beliefs. First, presenting correct information should reduce misperceptions, especially if provided in a clear and compelling format. We therefore test the effect of graphical information, which may be especially effective in facilitating belief updating about changes in quantities over time. In some cases, though, people may reject information because it threatens their worldview or self-concept – a mechanism that can be revealed by affirming individuals’ self-worth, which could make them more willing to acknowledge uncomfortable facts. We test both mechanisms jointly. In three experiments, we find that providing information in graphical form reduces misperceptions. A third study shows that this effect is greater than for equivalent textual information. Our findings for self-affirmation are more equivocal. We find limited evidence that self-affirmation can help diminish misperceptions when no other information is provided, but it does not consistently increase willingness to accept corrective information as previous research in social psychology would suggest. These results suggest that misperceptions are caused by a lack of information as well as psychological threat, but that these factors may interact in ways that are not yet well understood.

Journal

"Journal of Elections, Public Opinion and Parties"Taylor & Francis

Published: Apr 3, 2019

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