Perceived Versus Actual Ability to Identify Fake News: Evidence From Israel’s 2019–2020 Elections

Moran Yarchi, Tal Samuel-Azran, Tsahi (Zack) Hayat


A less studied topic about fake news is the gap between the perceived and actual ability to identify it. This study examines the topic using a panel survey during Israel’s 2019–2020 election campaigns (Wave 1—N = 1,427; Wave 2—N = 758). Our research, which measured participants’ perceived ability to identify fake news during the April 2019 elections and their actual ability to do so during the September 2019 elections, allowed us to measure the gap between the two. Our analysis reveals that although various political and media variables predict citizens’ perceived ability to identify fake news, most of those indicators are not useful in explaining their actual ability to do so. The gap between the two is explained by political interest and exposure to diverse sources. In addition, we examine the Dunning-Kruger effect, focusing on the overestimation versus the underestimation of fake news identification. The findings indicate that the high political interest and knowledge, alongside high news exposure from diverse sources, leads people to feel complacent and fails people in fake news identification.


fake news, election campaigns, misinformation perception, fake news identification, Dunning-Kruger effect

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