They Might be a Liar but They’re My Liar: Source Evaluation and the Prevalence of Misinformation

Briony Swire-Thompson, Ullrich K. H. Ecker, Stephan Lewandowsky, Adam J. Berinsky

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

52 Citations (Scopus)
78 Downloads (Pure)


Even if people acknowledge that misinformation is incorrect after a correction has been presented, their feelings towards the source of the misinformation can remain unchanged. The current study investigated whether participants reduce their support of Republican and Democratic politicians when the prevalence of misinformation disseminated by the politicians appears to be high in comparison to the prevalence of their factual statements. We presented U.S. participants either with (1) equal numbers of false and factual statements from political candidates or (2) disproportionately more false than factual statements. Participants received fact‐checks as to whether items were true or false, then rerated both their belief in the statements as well as their feelings towards the candidate. Results indicated that when corrected misinformation was presented alongside equal presentations of affirmed factual statements, participants reduced their belief in the misinformation but did not reduce their feelings towards the politician. However, if there was considerably more misinformation retracted than factual statements affirmed, feelings towards both Republican and Democratic figures were reduced—although the observed effect size was extremely small.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)21-34
Number of pages14
JournalPolitical Psychology
Issue number1
Early online date13 Apr 2019
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2020

Structured keywords

  • Memory
  • TeDCog


  • The continued influence effect
  • misinformation
  • belief updating
  • source credibility
  • fact checking


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