“Trust, Then Verify”: When and Why People Fact-Check Partisan Information

Nathan Walter, Stephanie Edgerly, Camille J. Saucier


Using two experiments, the present studies examine the motivations (accuracy goals versus directional goals) underlying verification intentions and fact-checking. Study 1 explores the role of news article uncertainty and ideological congruence in motivating individuals to fact-check, proposing a mediation model that involves perceptions of speaker credibility and message accuracy. Study 2 complements these findings and tests the ability to reduce ideological bias by providing readers with a forewarning “note from the editor” regarding the partisan nature of the article. The findings point to the importance of considering the motivations for fact-checking and the need to distinguish between “affirming fact-checkers” and “informing fact-checkers.”



fact-checking, credibility, motivated reasoning, uncertainty, perceived accuracy

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