Testing the Effect of Information on Discerning the Veracity of News in Real Time

We conducted series of studies to examine how certain cues influence readers' beliefs in information online. Our findings shed light on the efficacy of common digital media literacy strategies and emphasize the importance of using thoroughly tested, evidence-based interventions.


Despite broad adoption of digital media literacy interventions that provide online users with more information when consuming news, relatively little is known about the effect of this additional information on the discernment of news veracity in real time. Gaining a comprehensive understanding of how information impacts discernment of news veracity has been hindered by challenges of external and ecological validity. Using a series of pre-registered experiments, we measure this effect in real time. Access to the full article relative to solely the headline/lede and access to source information improves an individual's ability to correctly discern the veracity of news. We also find that encouraging individuals to search online increases belief in both false/misleading and true news. Taken together, we provide a generalizable method for measuring the effect of information on news discernment, as well as crucial evidence for practitioners developing strategies for improving the public's digital media literacy.