Understanding Fake News Corrective Action: A Mixed-Method Approach

Homero Gil de Zúñiga, Manuel Goyanes, Chris Skurka


Recent scholarship deals with the spread of fake news in social media, suggesting viable ways to slow down the spread of misinformation. Effective documented interventions rely on fake news identification and peer corrective actions. Based on a mixed-method convergent design, this study independently (1) investigates how citizens develop strategies to identify fake news and generate rational motivations to engage in corrective actions (Study 1, 51 in-depth adults’ interviews in Spain) and (2) tests the direct and indirect effects, via cognitive news elaboration, of traditional, social media, and fake news exposure leading to corrective measures (Study 2, with U.S. survey data). Study 1 shows that the fake news identification process is based on two distinctive layers: cognitive processes related to news content appraisal and a follow-up consumption of media resources (i.e., fact-checkers). Study 2 shows how traditional news use exhibited a direct relationship with corrective responses, whereas fake news and social media news exposure are only indirectly associated to corrective actions through cognitive elaboration. The findings contribute new insights about how to combat misinformation.


fake news, social media, corrective action, misinformation, heuristics, information cognitive processing and elaboration, fake news detection, mixed methods

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