University of Twente Student Theses


“I don’t buy it!” " : The awareness of fake news and its effects on consumer responses

Oude Nijhuis, J.H. (2018) “I don’t buy it!” " : The awareness of fake news and its effects on consumer responses.

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Abstract:AIM: Little research has been done on the topic of fake news. The studies that have been conducted, mostly focus on the context of politics. These studies show that fake news dispatches can heavily impact the attitude of people. Moreover, when being exposed to news items, most people find it hard to distinguish the fake from the ‘real’. This might not apply exclusively to politics. That is why, acknowledging its potential, it is interesting to explore if similar effects might occur when focusing on brands and consumer responses. Previously conducted studies show that negatively charged ‘real’ news impacts the attitude and behavior of consumers, changing their brand perception and related alternations such as buying behavior and product evaluation. By exposing consumers to negative news, whether fake or ‘real’ in nature, they could show a decline in their affinity towards the brand and their buying behavior. Therefore, this study aims to examine whether nature (i.e., fake versus ‘real’) and valence (i.e., positive versus negative) affects consumer responses constructs, such as attitudinal change, brand hate, brand love, product evaluation and word-of-mouth. METHOD: An online survey was used in which respondents were exposed to one of four manipulated news articles (i.e., negatively charged ‘real’ news, negatively charged fake news, positively charged ‘real’ news and positively charged fake news). The two fake news conditions had five manipulations. The actual name of the writer and the actual URL were replaced by fictional names, which, especially in the case of the URL, were not credible at all. Another writing style was implemented by adding some completely capitalized sentences and an excessive amount of exclamation marks. Names of experts were randomly made up and this version lacked supporting arguments. Lastly, the versions were manipulated so they were either positively or negatively charged. Afterwards, questions were asked about several consumer responses. 139 Dutch respondents participated in the 2x2 experimental design. RESULTS: Results show a significant difference for the construct brand hate between positively charged ‘real’ news and negatively charged fake news. Another significant difference can be found between positively charged ‘real’ news and negatively charged ‘real’ news , also for the construct of brand hate. The difference between positively and negatively charged ‘real’ news can be explained by the fact that the valence of a news item influences consumer responses. Furthermore, results confirm that respondents are not able to effectively distinguish fake news from the ‘real’ news article. Further no overall significant differences were found between the four conditions. CONCLUSION: Even though results did not show significant effects between fake and ‘real’ news, this study is an important addition to the research field of fake news and consumer response, for example in terms of awareness. Regarding safety and trust issues, it is highly important that readers become able to distinguish the fake from the ‘real’. Not only are readers easily deceived, but consequences of fake news dispatches can also harm brand perception or reputation. That no significant differences were found between the fake and ‘real’ news indicates that respondents do not pay attention to the five manipulations (lack of supportive material, missing experts, domain name, strange name of the author and grammatical errors) which were manipulated in the fake news articles.
Item Type:Essay (Master)
Unknown organization, Utrecht, Nederland
Faculty:BMS: Behavioural, Management and Social Sciences
Subject:05 communication studies
Programme:Communication Studies MSc (60713)
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