Mistakenly misinformed or intentionally deceived? Mis- and Disinformation perceptions on the Russian War in Ukraine among citizens in 19 countries

Michael Hameleers*, Marina Tulin, Claes Holger de Vreese, Toril Aalberg, Peter van Aelst, Ana Sofia Cardenal, Nicoleta Corbu, Patrick van Erkel, Frank Esser, Luisa Gehle, Denis Halagiera, David Nicolas Hopmann, Karolina Koc-Michalska, Jörg Matthes, Christine Meltzer, S. Mihelj, Christian Schemer, Tamir Sheafer, Sergio Splendore, James StanyerAgnieszka Stępińska, Václav Štětka, Jesper Strömback, Ludovic Terren, Yannis Theocharis, Alon Zoizner

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

Abstract

In information environments characterized by institutional distrust, fragmentation and the widespread dissemination of conspiracies and disinformation, citizens perceive misinformation as a salient and threatening issue. Especially amidst disruptive events and crises, news users are likely to believe that information is inaccurate or deceptive. Using an original 19-country comparative survey study across diverse regions in the world (N = 19,037), we find that news users are likely to regard information on the Russian war in Ukraine as false. They are more likely to attribute false information to deliberative deception than to a lack of access to the war area or inaccurate expert knowledge. Russian sources are substantially more likely to be blamed for falsehoods than Ukrainian or Western sources – but these attribution biases depend on a country's position on the war. Our findings reveal that people mostly believe that falsehoods are intended to deceive them, and selectively associate misinformation with the opposed camp.

Original languageEnglish
JournalEuropean Journal of Political Research
ISSN0304-4130
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 2023

Keywords

  • credibility
  • disinformation
  • media trust
  • misinformation
  • trustworthiness

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