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

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
JournalRisk Analysis
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2022

Keywords

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

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