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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 Ramirez
  • Julia Seither
  • Jaime Unda
  • Beatriz Vallejo


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 individual 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.

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  • John List & Lina Ramirez & Julia Seither & Jaime Unda & Beatriz Vallejo, 2024. "Toward an Understanding of the Economics of Misinformation: Evidence from a Demand Side Field Experiment on Critical Thinking," Framed Field Experiments 00786, The Field Experiments Website.
  • Handle: RePEc:feb:framed:00786

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Barrera, Oscar & Guriev, Sergei & Henry, Emeric & Zhuravskaya, Ekaterina, 2020. "Facts, alternative facts, and fact checking in times of post-truth politics," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 182(C).
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    5. John A. List, 2020. "Non est Disputandum de Generalizability? A Glimpse into The External Validity Trial," NBER Working Papers 27535, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    7. Bursztyn, Leonardo & Rao, Akaash & Roth, Christopher & Yanagizawa-Drott, David, 2020. "Misinformation during a Pandemic," The Warwick Economics Research Paper Series (TWERPS) 1274, University of Warwick, Department of Economics.
    8. Voelkel, Jan G. & Stagnaro, Michael & Chu, James & Pink, Sophia Lerner & Mernyk, Joseph S. & Redekopp, Chrystal & Ghezae, Isaias & Cashman, Matthew & Adjodah, Dhaval & Allen, Levi, 2023. "Megastudy identifying effective interventions to strengthen Americans’ democratic attitudes," OSF Preprints y79u5, Center for Open Science.
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • C93 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Field Experiments
    • D9 - Microeconomics - - Micro-Based Behavioral Economics
    • D91 - Microeconomics - - Micro-Based Behavioral Economics - - - Role and Effects of Psychological, Emotional, Social, and Cognitive Factors on Decision Making

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