For those who are interested, I have a new article in Political Psychology with Michael Cobb and Jason Reifler on the effects of discredited positive misinformation. Contrary to previous research, which finds that negative misinformation tends to have lasting effects on people's evaluations of politicians even after it is shown to be false, we show that politicians are punished by voters when positive misinformation about them is discredited even if they were not trying to deceive the public.
Beliefs Don't Always Persevere: How Political Figures Are Punished When Positive Information about Them Is Discredited
Recent research has extended the belief-perseverance paradigm to the political realm, showing that negative information about political figures has a persistent effect on political opinions even after it has been discredited. However, little is known about the effects of false positive information about political figures. In three experiments, we find that discrediting positive information generates a “punishment effect” that is inconsistent with the previous literature on belief perseverance. We argue people attempt to adjust for the perceived influence of the false claim when the information is discredited. In this case, when trying to account for the effects of discredited positive information about a politician, people overestimate how much correction is needed and thus end up with a more negative opinion. (By contrast, people underestimate how much correction is needed to adjust for false negative information, leading to belief perseverance.) These results suggest that bogus credit claiming or other positive misinformation can have severe repercussions for politicians.
For more, see my previous articles on misperceptions and factual beliefs:
-Misinformation and Fact-checking: Research Findings from Social Science (with Jason Reifler)
-Why the "Death Panel" Myth Wouldn't Die: Misinformation in the Health Care Reform Debate (ungated copy)
-When Corrections Fail: The Persistence of Political Misperceptions (pre-publication version) (with Jason Reifler)
-The Limited Effects of Testimony on Political Persuasion (pre-publication version)