About the project

  1. Why are some types of media exemplars so powerful in shaping factual misperceptions and responsibility attributions in the mass public while others are uninfluential?
  2. How can the effects of powerful but unrepresentative exemplars be corrected to combat misinformation in the mass public?

The EXDEM project is theoretically ambitious and will develop a new interdisciplinary theory integrating insights from psychology, communication, cognitive science, and political science to answer the research questions above.

In different lines of research the journalistic practice of using the narrative of a concrete person to illustrate the broader issue has been referred to as “exemplars”, “human interest frames”, “case reports” and “episodic frames”. So the project includes and contributes to these lines of research.

By answering the research questions the EXDEM project has the ambition to advance scientific knowledge of the consequences of media exposure as well as the sources of misinformation and biased democratic responsibility attributions in the mass public and develops new best practice guidelines for how to mitigate them. Relevant sources of theoretical inspiration include (but is certainly not limited to) research on cognitive biases and heuristics, emotions, interpersonal communication, and identity.

Methodologically, the project implements a unique cross-national research design combining different types of survey experiments with analyses of people’s real-world reactions to real-world media tweets. The project will develop and implement a series of parallel experiments in the United States, France, and Denmark to study the research questions. Additional countries may be included among the sites of study.

The project is organized into four work packages: