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Effects of Unresolved Factual Disputes in the News on Epistemic Political Efficacy


  • Raymond J. Pingree

    Corresponding author
    1. School of Communication, The Ohio State University, 3016 Derby Hall, 154 N Oval Mall, Columbus, OH 43210, USA
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Raymond J. Pingree; e-mail:


This experiment tests effects of passive, neutral reporting of contradictory factual claims on audiences. Exposure to such reporting is found to affect a new self-efficacy construct developed in this study called epistemic political efficacy (EPE), which taps confidence in one's own ability to determine truth in politics. Measurement of EPE is found to be reliable and valid, and effects of neutral reporting on it are found to be conditional on prior interest in the issues under dispute. Implications of this effect and of EPE are discussed. Self-efficacy theory (Bandura, 1982) suggests these short-term effects may accumulate over time. EPE may affect outcomes related to political understanding, opinion formation, and information seeking.