Fake news, real risks: How online discussion and sources of fact-check influence public risk perceptions toward nuclear energy

Shirley S. Ho, Agnes S.F. Chuah, Nuri Kim, Edson C. Tandoc

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations

Abstract

This study seeks to understand how online discussion, fact-checking, and sources of fact-checks will influence individuals’ risk perceptions toward nuclear energy when they are exposed to fake news. Using a 2 × 3 experimental design, 320 participants were randomly assigned to one of the six experimental conditions. Results showed an interaction effect between online discussion and exposure to fact-checking, in which online discussion lowered individuals’ risk perception toward nuclear energy when a fact-check was unavailable. Of those who participated in the online discussion, those who viewed a fact-check posted by traditional media have higher risk perception as compared to those who viewed a fact-check posted by a fact-check organization. Our findings indicate that different fact-checking sources can have differential effects on public risk perceptions, depending on whether online discussion is involved. To curb the spread of fake news, different fact-checking strategies will need to be deployed depending on the situation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2569-2583
Number of pages15
JournalRisk Analysis
Volume42
Issue number11
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors thank Peihan Yu for her helpful comments on this work. This work is funded by the Singapore National Research Foundation under the Nuclear Safety Research and Education Programme (NSREP) Award No. NRF2014NPR‐NPRP001‐004. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Singapore National Research Foundation.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 Society for Risk Analysis.

Keywords

  • fact-check
  • fake news
  • nuclear energy
  • online discussion
  • risk perception

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