Empowering University Students to Debunk Misinformation: Effectiveness of Fact-based VS Logic-based Correction Intervention on Corrective Actions and Misconception Reduction

Project: Research project

Project Details


Research on misinformation suggested that most corrective actions are initiated by authorities or algorithms. Individual online users often do not know what to do about misinformation if they encounter it. Misinformation has been reported to circulate particularly fast in close-knit online communities of young people; thus, we explore an educational strategy that empowers young adults not only to detect false information, but also to rectify it.

Existing educational intervention takes the form of media literacy training which aims to build a broad foundation for distinguishing false information from reliable one. These preventive strategies are not empirically supported to lead to corrective actions once individuals spot misinformation.

Research on corrective strategies against misinformation have primarily focused on fact-based corrections such as fact-checking; logic-based corrections that expose logical errors in false claims are gaining popularity, but rarely studied.

Research on misinformation and misconception suggested that factual corrections do not directly overwrite affective associations that are rooted in individuals’ minds. Logic-based correction might lead to improved acceptance of correct information as it provides criteria for judging the truthfulness of claims.

Current proposal seeks to fill these gaps: to empower individual user correction, we need empirical data on how successful the two corrective strategies are when taught to individuals, if they would apply the strategies learned, and what effects learning may produce in motivating corrective actions, and in reducing misconceptions.

Study 1 (N=120) will test the effects of a layering-multiple intervention strategy that add training in corrective strategies (3 conditions: fact-based vs logic-based vs control) and correction exposure (2 conditions: correction exposure vs no correction exposure) to traditional media literacy intervention on participants’ corrective actions and motivation. A randomized 3 x 2 mixed design with one between- and one within-subject ANOVA will be adopted. Study 2 (N = 321) will test the effects of misinformation correction in reducing misconceptions, as well as whether the effects endure a 4-week period; adopting a randomized experimental design comparing three groups.

Expected impact include releasing Open Educational Resources, intergenerational activities, and research dissemination. We anticipate overall positive effects on training of misinformation correction; favouring logic-based corrective strategy. If successful, it may be expanded to other levels of education in Hong Kong, adding a new component to the traditional media literacy curriculum. Findings will provide a new direction for misinformation research as well as an education strategy for building a critical mass of willing and skilled correctors in a civil society.
Effective start/end date1/01/23 → …


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