Educative Interventions to Combat Misinformation: Evidence from a Field Experiment in India
By Sumitra Badrinathan, University of Oxford
Misinformation makes democratic governance harder, especially in developing countries. Despite its real-world import, little is known about how to combat misinformation outside of the United States, particularly in places with low education, accelerating Internet access, and encrypted information sharing. This study uses a field experiment in India to test the efficacy of a pedagogical intervention on respondents’ ability to identify misinformation during the 2019 elections (N = 1,224). Treated respondents received hour-long in-person media literacy training in which enumerators discussed inoculation strategies, corrections, and the importance of verifying misinformation, all in a coherent learning module. Receiving this hour-long media literacy intervention did not significantly increase respondents’ ability to identify misinformation on average. However, treated respondents who support the ruling party became significantly less able to identify pro-attitudinal stories. These findings point to the resilience of misinformation in India and the presence of motivated reasoning in a traditionally nonideological party system.