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Toward an Understanding of the Economics of Misinformation: Evidence from a Demand Side Field Experiment on Critical Thinking

John List, Lina M. Ramírez, Julia Seither, Jaime Unda and Beatriz Vallejo

No 32367, NBER Working Papers from National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc

Abstract: Misinformation represents a vital threat to the societal fabric of modern economies. While the supply side of the misinformation market has begun to receive increased scrutiny, the demand side has received scant attention. We explore the demand for misinformation through the lens of augmenting critical thinking skills in a field experiment during the 2022 Presidential election in Colombia. Data from roughly 2.000 individuals suggest that our treatments enhance critical thinking, causing subjects to more carefully consider the truthfulness of potential misinformation. We furthermore provide evidence that reducing the demand of fake news can deliver on the dual goal of reducing the spread of fake news by encouraging reporting of misinformation.

JEL-codes: C93 D9 D91 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2024-04
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-cbe, nep-exp and nep-pke
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