We study how social proximity between the sender and the receiver of information shapes the effectiveness of preventive health behaviour campaigns and the persistence of misinformation. We implement a field experiment among a representative sample of slum residents in two major Indian cities characterized by Hindu-Muslim tensions. We show that informative messages are effective at improving evidence-based behavior, but not non-evidence-based behavior. These findings do not differ by social proximity, signalled by religion. However, when sender and receiver share the same religion, the intervention significantly reduces misinformation carrying in-group salience, highlighting the role of social proximity in fighting misinformation.
Britta is an IFS Associate Director, Associate Staff at the Department of Economics at the UC and Researcher at NIHR Obesity Policy Research Unit.
Research Fellow Nova School of Business and Economics
Alex is an IFS Research Fellow, an Associate Professor at Nova School of Business and Economics and a Research Affiliate at the CEPR.
Senior Research Economist
Antonella Bancalari is a Senior Research Economist at the Institute for Fiscal Studies.
Kalyan Kumar Kameshwara
Working Paper details
- Institute for Fiscal Studies
Armand, A et al. (2022). Social proximity and misinformation: experimental evidence from a mobile phone-based campaign in India. London: Institute for Fiscal Studies. Available at: https://ifs.org.uk/publications/social-proximity-and-misinformation-experimental-evidence-mobile-phone-based-campaign (accessed: 3 December 2023).
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