CONTENT MATTERS, FAKE OR NOT: MEDIA CONTENT INFLUENCE ON PERCEIVED INTERGROUP THREAT
Keywords:intergroup threat theory, media effects, asylum seekers, disinformation, fake news
AbstractWe investigate how consumption of media content leads to change in perception of an outgroup, and how is such change affected when the content is presented as false. 403 Israeli participants filled out a questionnaire measuring realistic and symbolic threat towards EU asylum seekers (EUAS). after 10-14 days, participants read an article about EUAS. Group 1 read a positive article, group 2 read a negative article and group 3 read the same negative article, followed by a disclaimer notifying that fact-check websites found the facts in the article misleading and false. Group 4 read a neutral report and a control group did not read an article. A follow-up questionnaire measured perceived threat towards EUAS again, as well as participant’s evaluation of the articles. The finding show that media content has an immediate effect on perceived threat towards EUAS, and the relevant perceived threat emphasized in each article was significantly changed in the direction of the article (positively/negatively). The change was similar in the case of the negative article presented as a fake article. Further analysis shows that participants evaluated the fake article similarly to the negative article which was not presented as fake. Apparently, in each group the evaluation of the article (reliability, professionalism, convincingness, or objectivity) significantly correlated with participant prior perceived threat towards EUAS. It seems that prior attitude serves as a lens through which media consumers evaluate content, and the question of whether the facts are true becomes negligible compared to one’s own inclination and beliefs.
How to Cite
Steinfeld, N., & Lissitsa, S. (2021). CONTENT MATTERS, FAKE OR NOT: MEDIA CONTENT INFLUENCE ON PERCEIVED INTERGROUP THREAT. AoIR Selected Papers of Internet Research, 2021. https://doi.org/10.5210/spir.v2021i0.12246