The Elusive Backfire Effect: Mass Attitudes’ Steadfast Factual Adherence

  title={The Elusive Backfire Effect: Mass Attitudes’ Steadfast Factual Adherence},
  author={Thomas J. Wood and Ethan Porter},
  journal={Political Behavior},
Can citizens heed factual information, even when such information challenges their partisan and ideological attachments? The “backfire effect,” described by Nyhan and Reifler (Polit Behav 32(2):303–330., 2010), says no: rather than simply ignoring factual information, presenting respondents with facts can compound their ignorance. In their study, conservatives presented with factual information about the absence of Weapons of Mass Destruction in Iraq… 

Why the backfire effect does not explain the durability of political misperceptions

  • B. Nyhan
  • Psychology
    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
  • 2021
The research that is reviewed suggests that the accuracy-increasing effects of corrective information like fact checks often do not last or accumulate; instead, they frequently seem to decay or be overwhelmed by cues from elites and the media promoting more congenial but less accurate claims.

Unchecked vs. Uncheckable: How Opinion-Based Claims Can Impede Corrections of Misinformation

ABSTRACT Although the prominence of fact-checking in political journalism has grown dramatically in recent years, empirical investigations regarding the effectiveness of fact-checking in correcting

Facts and Myths about Misperceptions

  • B. Nyhan
  • Political Science
    Journal of Economic Perspectives
  • 2020
Misperceptions threaten to warp mass opinion and public policy on controversial issues in politics, science, and health. What explains the prevalence and persistence of these false and unsupported

Why “backfire effects” do not explain the durability of political misperceptions

Previous research indicated that corrective information can provoke a so-called “backfire effect” in which respondents more strongly endorsed a misperception about a controversial political or

“I Don’t Believe Anything They Say Anymore!” Explaining Unanticipated Media Effects Among Distrusting Citizens

The erosion of political and societal trust, polarization, and the omnipresence of disinformation may undermine the perceived trustworthiness of established sources of information. Yet, many forced

Toward a Research Agenda on Political Misinformation and Corrective Information

Truth and falsehood are central subjects in philosophical, political science and mass communication scholarship as an informed citizenry is regarded as a necessity for a wellfunctioning democracy.

The Anatomy of Credulity and Incredulity: Or, a Hermeneutics of Misinformation

This essay explores the historical process by which the birth and expansion of information systems transformed the relationship between “faith” and “fact.” The existence of recurring forms of

Aggregated fact-checks, partisanship, and perceptions of candidate honesty

ABSTRACT Evidence of journalistic fact-checking’s capacity to correct misperceptions is mixed, and evidence of its capacity to alter candidate appraisals is even more limited. However, to date,

Taking Fact-Checks Literally But Not Seriously? The Effects of Journalistic Fact-Checking on Factual Beliefs and Candidate Favorability

Are citizens willing to accept journalistic fact-checks of misleading claims from candidates they support and to update their attitudes about those candidates? Previous studies have reached

“The Big Lie”: How Fact Checking Influences Support for Insurrection

This experimental investigation explores the influence of election fraud fact-checking and cognitive processing styles on participants’ confidence in the 2020 U.S. presidential election’s legitimacy



Processing political misinformation: comprehending the Trump phenomenon

Findings suggest that people use political figures as a heuristic to guide evaluation of what is true or false, yet do not necessarily insist on veracity as a prerequisite for supporting political candidates.

Motivated numeracy and enlightened self-government

Abstract Why does public conflict over societal risks persist in the face of compelling and widely accessible scientific evidence? We conducted an experiment to probe two alternative answers: the

Biased Assimilation and Attitude Polarization: The Effects of Prior Theories on Subsequently Considered Evidence

People who hold strong opinions on complex social issues are likely to examine relevant empirical evidence in a biased manner. They are apt to accept "confirming" evidence at face value while

Through a Glass and Darkly: Attitudes Toward International Trade and the Curious Effects of Issue Framing

  • M. Hiscox
  • Economics
    International Organization
  • 2006
Are most voters opposed to globalization? A growing body of empirical research, using data from available surveys of public opinion, suggests that antiglobalization sentiments are strong, especially

You Cannot be Serious: The Impact of Accuracy Incentives on Partisan Bias in Reports of Economic Perceptions

When surveyed about economic conditions, supporters of the president's party often report more positive conditions than its opponents. Scholars have interpreted this finding to mean that partisans

Misinformation and Motivated ReasoningResponses to Economic News in a Politicized Environment

Public opinion scholars have recently focused on understanding why surveys report such high levels of misinformation among otherwise knowledgeable and engaged partisans. In this paper, we take

Partisan Perceptual Bias and the Information Environment

Perceptual bias occurs when beliefs deviate from reality. Democrats and Republicans are thought to be especially susceptible to this type of biased-information processing. And yet we know little

Belief Echoes: The Persistent Effects of Corrected Misinformation

Across three separate experiments, I find that exposure to negative political information continues to shape attitudes even after the information has been effectively discredited. I call these

Partisan Perceptual Bias and the Information Environment

Perceptual bias occurs when beliefs deviate from reality. Democrats and Republicans are thought to be especially susceptible to this type of biased-information processing. And yet we know little

Media Use and Political Predispositions: Revisiting the Concept of Selective Exposure

Today, people have ample opportunity to engage in selective exposure, the selection of information matching their beliefs. Whether this is occurring, however, is a matter of debate. While some worry