Citation

Rumors and Health Care Reform: Experiments in Political Misinformation

Author:
Berinsky, Adam J.
Publication:
British Journal of Political Science; Cambridge
Year:
2017

This article explores belief in political rumors surrounding the health care reforms enacted by Congress in 2010. Refuting rumors with statements from unlikely sources can, under certain circumstances, increase the willingness of citizens to reject rumors regardless of their own political predilections. Such source credibility effects, while well known in the political persuasion literature, have not been applied to the study of rumor. Though source credibility appears to be an effective tool for debunking political rumors, risks remain. Drawing upon research from psychology on 'fluency' - the ease of information recall - this article argues that rumors acquire power through familiarity. Attempting to quash rumors through direct refutation may facilitate their diffusion by increasing fluency. The empirical results find that merely repeating a rumor increases its power.