An experimental study of the effectiveness of fact checks: interplay of evidence type, veracity and news agreement

Stephanie Jean Tsang*, Jingwei Zheng, Wenshu Li, Mistura Adebusola Salaudeen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
29 Downloads (Pure)


Purpose: Given the rapid growth in efforts on misinformation correction, the study aims to test how evidence type and veracity interact with news agreement on the effectiveness of fact-checking on how well a corrective message discount a false news information.

Design/methodology/approach: Experimental participants (N = 511) in Hong Kong were exposed to the same news article and then to a piece of corrective information debunking the news article with variation in the types of evidence (numerical vs narrative) and veracity (no verdict vs half false vs entirely false) in 2019.

Findings: Among the participants who disagreed with the news article, numerical fact-checking was more effective than narrative fact-checking in discounting the news article. Some evidence of the backfire effect was found among participants for whom the article was attitude incongruent.

Originality/value: When debunking false information with people exposed to attitude-incongruent news, a milder verdict presented in the form of a half-false scale can prompt a more positive perception of the issue at stake than an entirely false scale, implying that a less certain verdict can help in mitigating the backfire effect compared to a certain verdict.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1415-1429
Number of pages15
JournalOnline Information Review
Issue number7
Early online date24 Apr 2023
Publication statusPublished - 8 Nov 2023

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Information Systems
  • Library and Information Sciences
  • Computer Science Applications

User-Defined Keywords

  • Evidence type
  • Fact-checking
  • Hong Kong
  • Political communication
  • Psychological reactance
  • Veracity


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