Research has demonstrated time and again that peoples’ self-reports of news exposure are heavily inflated and the reasons for this overreporting remain unclear. In three online survey experiments conducted in Israel, we manipulated the survey procedure to test cognitive and motivational explanations, and attempted to attenuate inflated reports of news exposure. While increasing or decreasing the anonymity of the survey (the ultimate test for social desirability) did not affect participants’ responses, a self-affirmation manipulation reduced reported exposure. A memory-aid manipulation also reduced reported television news exposure, suggesting that the cognitive mechanism possibly relates to memory failure.
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