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The effect of Fox News on health behavior during COVID-19

Ash, Elliott, Galletta, Sergio, Hangartner, Dominik, Margalit, Yotam and Pinna, Matteo (2023) The effect of Fox News on health behavior during COVID-19. Political Analysis. ISSN 1047-1987

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Identification Number: 10.1017/pan.2023.21


In the early weeks of the 2020 coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the Fox News Channel advanced a skeptical narrative that downplayed the risks posed by the virus. We find that this narrative had significant consequences: in localities with higher Fox News viewership—exogenous due to random variation in channel positioning—people were less likely to adopt behaviors geared toward social distancing (e.g., staying at home) and consumed fewer goods in preparation (e.g., cleaning products, hand sanitizers, and masks). Using original survey data, we find that the effect of Fox News came not merely from its long-standing distrustful stance toward science, but also due to program-specific content that minimized the COVID-19 threat. Taken together, our results demonstrate the significant impact that misinformation in media coverage can exert on viewers’ beliefs and behavior, even in high-stakes situations.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2023 The Authors
Divisions: Government
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN1990 Broadcasting
H Social Sciences > HV Social pathology. Social and public welfare. Criminology
R Medicine > RA Public aspects of medicine
B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Date Deposited: 20 Jun 2023 08:36
Last Modified: 19 May 2024 06:00

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