When Do Audiences Verify? How Perceptions About Message and Source Influence Audience Verification of News Headlines

Stephanie Edgerly*, Rachel R. Mourão, Esther Thorson, Samuel M. Tham

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

2 Scopus citations


In today’s media landscape, people are encouraged to verify the news and information they encounter. Using an online experiment, this study explores audience’s intent to verify a news headline by manipulating whether the headline is true or false, from a source that varies in credibility, and perceived to be congruent or incongruent with participants’ partisanship. Results show that participants exhibit a higher intent to verify when they believe the headline is true, which is predicted by perceived congruency with preexisting ideological leanings. We discuss these findings in terms of the normative limitations of audience verification.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)52-71
Number of pages20
JournalJournalism and Mass Communication Quarterly
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 1 2020



  • audience verification
  • motivated reasoning
  • news evaluations
  • partisanship

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication

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