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Trust in public organisations, science and institutions has been challenged by recent crises like the Covid-19 pandemic, climate change and the energy transition. The Edelman Trust Barometer (2021) has shown how, around the world, trust in media, business, government and NGOs is declining.

The spread and threat of mis- and disinformation is commonly seen as one of the main drivers, or at least a catalyst, of these declining trust levels. This ASCoR initiative is concerned with how to restore and consolidate trust in media, business, government and NGOs in the context of the different multifaceted threats posed by mis- and disinformation.

The initiative has two main goals, related to (a) conducting original empirical research on the use and impact of mis- and disinformation and (b) reaching out to important societal stakeholders to provide theory- and evidence-based guidelines on dealing with mis- and disinformation.

Research focus

The main research aim of this initiative is to test and develop tools and interventions that can help identify and correct misperceptions and restore trust in credible information in the context of societal crises. For example, by relying on scientific methods and theory, we measure how media trust and misinformation relate to perceptions of pressing issues like the COVID-19 pandemic or climate change, we test the impact of misinformation and fact-checks on the general public, identify what textual and visual characteristics can help to classify mis- and disinformation, and investigate which social groups are at a higher risk for misinformation. Taken together, our empirical research provides guidelines to make society more resilient to the threats of mis- and disinformation. At the end of this page, you can view some of our recent academic publications on these issues. Most of our publications are available in open access, which means that they are freely accessible to everybody all over the world.

Societal outreach

We firmly believe that academic research on communication science is truly valuable when it makes a transition from the academic to the wider world. Therefore, we are a firm believer in the power and need for societal outreach. Within the initiative, we make a committed effort to communicate the insights of our research to many societal stakeholders. For instance, we reach out to policy makers by writing position papers and being active in policy discussions, we regularly organize webinars and other meetings in which academics and communication professionals exchange ideas and insights, and we publish books aimed at a professional audience. Of course, we also reach out to the general public through national news media. These activities allow us to provide important societal stakeholder with evidence-based guidelines to deal with misinformation. In addition, they provide us with important insights about issues experienced by societal stakeholders, which provides inspiration for future research activities.

Recent publications (selection)

Below, you find a selection of relevant and recent academic publications by members of the initiative. The names of involved ASCoR members are indicated in bold:

  • Goldberg, A. C., Gattermann, K., Marquart, F., Brosius, A., & de Vreese, C. H. (2021). European solidarity in times of crisis: The role of information and media use. West European Politics44(5-6), 1314-1328.
  • Hameleers, M., Brosius, A., Marquart, F., Goldberg, A. C., van Elsas, E. J., & de Vreese, C. H. (2022). Mistake or manipulation? Conceptualizing perceived mis- and disinformation among news consumers in 10 European countries. Communication Research, 49, 919-941.
  • Hameleers, M., Humprecht, E., Möller, J., & Lühring, J. (in druk). Degrees of deception: the effects of different types of COVID-19 misinformation and the effectiveness of corrective information in crisis times. Information, Communication & Society.
  • Meppelink, C. S., Hendriks, H., Trilling, D., van Weert, J. C. M., Shao, A., & Smit, E. S. (2021). Reliable or not? An automated classification of webpages about early childhood vaccination using supervised machine learning. Patient Education and Counseling, 104(6), 1460-1466.
  • te Poel, F., Linn, A. J., Baumgartner, S. E., van Dijk, L., & Smit, E. S. (2021). Sick for information?: Information needs and media use of the Dutch public during the Covid-19 pandemic. European Journal of Health Communication, 2(3), 24-43.
  • van der Meer, G. L. A., Brosius, A., & Hameleers, M. (in druk). The role of media use and misinformation perceptions in optimistic bias and third-person perceptions in times of high media dependency: Evidence from four countries in the first stage of the COVID-19 pandemic. Mass Communication & Society.
  • Wonneberger, A., Meijers, M. H., & Schuck, A. R. (2020). Shifting public engagement: How media coverage of climate change conferences affects climate change audience segments. Public Understanding of Science29(2), 176-193.