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Pedro Hemsley, Marcio Firmo and Vitor Onuki
''How relevant is information? Some experimental evidence''
( 2023, Vol. 43 No.4 )
This paper examines the role of information from expert sources in opinion formation. While fact checking with experts has been widely adopted as a tool to fight fake news, it remains unclear whether people actually use such information to form their opinions, given that opinion formation may be influenced by a variety of factors. To investigate this, we conducted online experiments on three topics (gun violence, global warming, and Covid-19) to measure the impact of information from experts on opinion formation. Participants were randomly assigned to a treatment or control group, with the former receiving objective information from expert sources about the topic and the latter receiving none. Results indicate that objective information had a non-significant impact on opinion formation across all topics, which raises concerns about the effectiveness of using it to counter fake news. Additionally, we find a strong correlation between political position and opinion formation.
Keywords: Objective information, trust in experts, fact checking, opinion formation, fake news
JEL: D8 - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty: General
C9 - Design of Experiments: General
Manuscript Received : Mar 21 2023 Manuscript Accepted : Dec 30 2023

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