Media Trust and Persuasion
97 Pages Posted: 18 Nov 2019 Last revised: 10 May 2022
Date Written: May 10, 2022
This study examines the effect of media use on media trust and persuasion using a randomized field experiment in collaboration with a public media outlet in a democratic setting. By randomly increasing the subjects’ capacity for viewing its TV programs, we found that this treatment increased support for government policies by increasing program viewing time. The effect was driven by individuals trusting that broadcaster more than other broadcasters at the outset. Further, we found a divergence in trust levels: those with high levels of trust in that broadcaster became more trusting of it, while those with low levels of trust showed no change after the intervention. These results indicate that individuals tend to be persuaded by media outlets they trust, and their trust in those outlets is thereby further enhanced. We call this self-reinforcing nature of media trust and persuasion *endogenous persuasion*. To understand the mechanism underlying these findings, we developed a model of endogenous persuasion.
Keywords: media trust, persuasion, randomized controlled trial, machine learning, natural language processing
JEL Classification: K23, L82, D78
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation