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Moreno Mancosu (University of Turin)

17 November 2023 @ 13:00 - 14:00


  • Past event


17 November 2023
13:00 - 14:00
Event Category:
Academic Events

Seminar series “CLOSER, but not quite” – Unpacking post-truth: a truth-plausibility framework of political information

Venue: Campus Luigi Einaudi, room 3 D101

Abstract. In the last few years, academic research has investigated the mechanisms by which people believe in fake news, stories that mimic real news, although based on false facts. We propose a novel theoretical approach (the “truth-plausibility” model) that points out a characteristic of the fake news and their relationship with citizens rarely addressed by the literature, namely, the distinction between two cognitive processes, what we call “truth” and “plausibility evaluations”. We argue that evaluating the truth and the plausibility of a piece of information can be analytically and empirically distinguished. A truth judgment, as shown in previous literature, kicks in when people are asked to evaluate the veracity of a piece of information – namely, by comparing it to external, objective elements – while plausibility is more related to internal factors (e.g, how much the information resonates with people’s beliefs and biases). Across three studies (a correlational, an experimental and one pseudo-longitudinal design, n=~5,200), we test some of the expectations derived from the “truth-plausibility” approach. In study 1, we show that people can effectively discriminate between the definition of plausibility and truth. In study 2, we show that respondents declare higher likelihoods of sharing a content that they have evaluated as false but plausible with respect to people who evaluated as false and implausible. In study 3 we analyze determinants to plausibility assessment, showing that, when asked to evaluate the plausibility of a political news, respondents tend to rely more on the consistency of the news with their political leaning (respect to when asked about the truth of the news). We discuss our theoretical model and results by reflecting on what does “believe” means in the post-truth era.

Joint with Federico Vegetti, Andrea De Angelis, Joseph Uscinski.