Fact-Checking: A Meta-Analysis of What Works and for Whom

Nathan Walter, Jonathan Cohen, R. Lance Holbert, Yasmin Morag

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Despite its growing prominence in news coverage and public discourse, there is still considerable ambiguity regarding when and how fact-checking affects beliefs. Informed by theories of motivated reasoning and message design, a meta-analytic review was undertaken to examine the effectiveness of fact-checking in correcting political misinformation (k = 30,N = 20,963). Fact-checking has a significantly positive overall influence on political beliefs (d = 0.29), but the effects gradually weaken when using “truth scales,” refuting only parts of a claim, and fact-checking campaign-related statements. Likewise, the ability to correct political misinformation with fact-checking is substantially attenuated by participants’ preexisting beliefs, ideology, and knowledge. The study concludes with a discussion of the fact-checking literature in light of current gaps and future opportunities.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)350-375
Number of pages26
JournalPolitical Communication
Issue number3
StatePublished - 3 May 2020
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019, Copyright © 2019 Taylor & Francis Group, LLC.


  • correction
  • fact-checking
  • meta-analysis
  • misinformation
  • motivated reasoning

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication
  • Sociology and Political Science


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