Follow us
Publications Commentary Research People Events News Resources and Videos About IFS
Home Publications Countering misinformation with targeted messages: Experimental evidence using mobile phones

Countering misinformation with targeted messages: Experimental evidence using mobile phones

Alex Armand, Britta Augsburg, Antonella Bancalari and Kalyan Kumar Kameshwara
IFS Working Paper W21/27

Widespread misconceptions can be critical, especially in times of crisis. Through a field experiment, we study how to address such wrong or inaccurate beliefs using messages delivered to individual citizens using mobile phones. We focus on misinformation related to the COVID-19 pandemic in a hard-to-reach population – India’s slum residents. We randomly allocate participants to receive voice and video messages introduced by a local citizen, the messenger, and in which medical practitioners debunk misconceptions. To understand the role of targeting, we randomly vary the signaled religious identity of the messenger into either Muslim or Hindu, guaranteeing exogenous variation in religion concordance between messenger and recipient. Doctor messages are effective at increasing knowledge of, and compliance with, COVID-19 policy guidelines. Changes in misconceptions are observed only when there is religion concordance and mainly for religious-salient misconceptions. Correcting misconceptions with information requires targeting messages to specific populations and tailoring them to individual characteristics.

Coronavirus podcast

More on this topic

IFS Working Paper W22/16
This paper provides novel evidence on the trade-off between public service delivery and free riding in low- and middle-income countries.
IFS Working Paper W22/09
We draw on a cluster RCT in rural India of a sanitation labelled microcredit program, implemented by chance around the onset of a large sanitation policy comprising partial subsidies – Swacch Bharat or ‘Clean India’ Mission.
External publication
This note shows the results on firm size and effective tax rates for Ethiopia, where the corporate statutory tax rate is 30%.