Abstract

Purpose - Informed by the third-person effects (TPE) theory, this study aims to analyze restrictive versus corrective actions in response to the perceived TPE of misinformation on social media in the USA.Design/methodology/approach - The authors conducted an online survey among 1,793 adults in the USA in early April. All participants were randomly enrolled in this research through a professional survey company. The structural equation modeling via Amos 20 was adopted for hypothesis testing.Findings - Results indicated that individuals also perceived that others were more influenced by misinformation about COVID-19 than they were. Further, such a perceptual gap was associated with public support for governmental restrictions and corrective action. Negative affections toward health misinformation directly affected public support for governmental restrictions rather than corrective action. Support for governmental restrictions could further facilitate corrective action.Originality/value - This study examined the applicability of TPE theory in the context of digital health misinformation during a unique global crisis. It explored the significant role of negative affections in influencing restrictive and corrective actions. Practically, this study offered implications for information and communication educators and practitioners.Peer review - The peer review history for this article is available at: https://publons.com/publon/10.1108/OIR08-2020-0386


Authors

Cheng, Yang;  Luo, Yunjuan

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  • 1 reviewer
  • pre-publication peer review (FINAL ROUND)
    Decision Letter
    2020/11/11

    11-Nov-2020

    Dear Cheng, Yang; Luo, Yunjuan

    It is a pleasure to accept your manuscript OIR-08-2020-0386.R1, entitled "The Presumed Influence of Digital Misinformation: Examining U.S. Publics’ Support for Governmental Restrictions versus Corrective Action in the COVID-19 Pandemic" in its current form for publication in Online Information Review. Please note, no further changes can be made to your manuscript.

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    Decision letter by
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    Reviewer report
    2020/11/10

    The author(s) have addressed all my previous concerns about the paper. I recommend OIR accepting this paper.

    Reviewed by
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    Reviewer report
    2020/11/09

    This is a well-argued and carefully researched study.

    Cite this review
    Author Response
    2020/10/26

    Ref: OIR-08-2020-0386_R1
    Title: The Presumed Influence of Digital Misinformation: Examining U.S. Publics' Support for
    Governmental Restrictions versus Corrective Action in the COVID-19 Pandemic
    Journal: Online Information Review

    Dear Editors,

    Thanks for reaching “minor revision” decision with this manuscript. Following the valuable suggestions from the anonymous reviewers, we now have revised the paper “The Presumed Influence of Digital Misinformation: Examining U.S. Publics’ Support for
    Governmental Restrictions versus Corrective Action in the COVID-19 Pandemic” and would like to resubmit it to the Online Information Review.

    In the revised manuscript, first, we appreciate the positive comments from both reviewers: “This is a well-argued and carefully researched study…. demonstrates novelty and originality. In this case, it offers new insights in its field…demonstrates adequate understanding of relevant literature in the field of enquiry and has cited relevant literature sources….The methodology is accurately presented and captures the essence of the paper. All relevant ethical aspects of research are adequately identified and addressed. Grammatically, the paper has no errors. The research can easily be replicated in other contexts.” “In general, the paper is sounded and I believe the survey was done in good conduct.” As both reviewers agreed, this study examined the applicability of third-person effects theory in the context of digital health misinformation during a unique global crisis. It explored the significant role of negative affections in influencing restrictive and corrective actions in the U.S. Practically, this study offered implications for information and communication educators and practitioners.

    In this revision, we have carefully edited and revised the whole manuscript, including the title, abstract, introduction, literature review, method, findings, discussion, and limitation sections. We further refined the title as well to reflect the scope of this paper. Meanwhile, we ensured that our manuscript stays within the 10,000-word limit.

    Last but not least, we have carefully proofread the whole manuscript as well.

    Below are the point-by-point responses to the comments. The changes in the manuscript are highlighted in yellow.

    Best regards,
    Author(s)


    Responses to Reviewer #1:
    Recommendation: Accept
    Comments:
    This is a well-argued and carefully researched study.

    Additional Questions:
    Originality: Does the paper make a significant theoretical, empirical and/or methodological contribution to an area of importance, within the scope of the journal?: The paper demonstrates novelty and originality. In this case, it offers new insights in its field.
    Relationship to Literature: Does the paper demonstrate an adequate understanding of the relevant literature in the field and cite an appropriate range of literature sources? Is any significant work ignored? Is the literature review up-to-date? Has relevant material published in Online Information Review been cited?: The paper demonstrates adequate understanding of relevant literature in the field of enquiry and has cited relevant literature sources.
    Methodology: Is the paper's argument built on an appropriate base of theory, concepts or other ideas? Has the research on which the paper is based been well designed? Are the methods employed appropriate and fully explained? Have issues of research ethics been adequately identified and addressed?: The methodology is accurately presented and captures the essence of the paper. All relevant ethical aspects of research are adequately identified and addressed.
    Results: For empirical papers - are results presented clearly and analysed appropriately?: The results are presented clearly and succinctly. The authors demonstrate efforts in terms of applying themselves in presenting the results appropriately
    Discussion/Argument: Is the relation between any empirical findings and previous work discussed? Does the paper present a robust and coherent argument? To what extent does the paper engage critically with the literature and findings? Are theoretical concepts articulated well and used appropriately? Do the conclusions adequately tie together the other elements of the paper?: The authors demonstrate high levels of knowledge in the field. They present their ideas coherently and clearly. The is a good balance between theoretical concepts and the findings. All major concepts are captured accurately and are consistent with theoretical underpinnings.
    Implications for research, practice and/or society: Does the paper identify clearly any implications for research, practice and/or society? Does the paper bridge the gap between theory and practice? How can the research be used in practice (economic and commercial impact), in teaching, to influence public policy, in research (contributing to the body of knowledge)? What is the impact upon society (influencing public attitudes, affecting quality of life)? Are these implications consistent with the findings and conclusions of the paper?: The paper discusses accurately the implications of the research, consistent with its findings and conclusions.
    Quality of Communication: Does the paper clearly express its case, measured against the technical language of the fields and the expected knowledge of the journal's readership? Has attention been paid to the clarity of expression and readability, such as sentence structure, jargon use, acronyms, etc.: The paper is highly technical, but it is presented in such a way that a reader can follow the arguments made and make sense of them. There is limited use of jargon and reads very well. Grammatically, the paper has no errors.
    Reproducible Research: If appropriate, is sufficient information, potentially including data and software, provided to reproduce the results and are the corresponding datasets formally cited?: The research can easily be replicated in other contexts.

    Reply: We appreciate the positive comments from you: “This is a well-argued and carefully researched study…. demonstrates novelty and originality. In this case, it offers new insights in its field…demonstrates adequate understanding of relevant literature in the field of enquiry and has cited relevant literature sources….The methodology is accurately presented and captures the essence of the paper. All relevant ethical aspects of research are adequately identified and addressed. Grammatically, the paper has no errors. The research can easily be replicated in other contexts.” As both reviewers agreed, this study examined the applicability of third-person effects theory in the context of digital health misinformation during a unique global crisis. It explored the significant role of negative affections in influencing restrictive and corrective actions. Practically, this study offered implications for information and communication educators and practitioners.

    Again, we appreciate your valuable and meaningful comments, which help us significantly in this revision. If you have any further questions, please kindly let us know. We hope that you stay healthy and safe during the COVID-19 crisis. We look forward to your positive feedback.

    Responses to Reviewer #2:
    Recommendation: Minor Revision
    Comments:

    This is a survey study using the third person effects (TPE) theory to evaluate its relationships with various constructs. In general, the paper is sounded and I believe the survey was done in good conduct. The following points are my comments.

    Reply: We appreciate your positive comments on this article. As you can see, this study examined the applicability of third-person effects theory in the context of digital health misinformation during a unique global crisis. It explored the significant role of negative affections in influencing restrictive and corrective actions in the U.S. Practically, this study offered implications for information and communication educators and practitioners.

    In this revision, we have carefully edited and revised the whole manuscript, including the abstract, introduction, literature review, method, findings, discussion, and limitation sections. We further refined the title as well to reflect the scope of this paper. Below are the point-by-point responses to the comments. The changes in the manuscript are highlighted in yellow.

    1 Title
    In the introduction, the Corona crisis is described as a world health crisis. However, the study covers only the US. My suggestion is to add "US" somewhere in the title to limit the scope of the study, e.g. "Examining US Publics' Support for Governmental Restrictions. . . "

    Reply: Thanks for your suggestion. This is very useful advice and we have revised the title accordingly.

    2 Abstract
    I think the section on "Finding" is difficult to understand without reading the full article on the meanings of all concepts such as "cognitive elaboration". My suggestion is to do some editorial cuts some that the "findings" section is addressing the main questions in the "purpose" section. If I were the author(s), I would put "Individuals also perceived that others were more influenced by misinformation about COVID-19 than they were." as the first sentence and then elaborate its relationships with restrictive / corrective actions.

    Reply: We strongly agree with you. We have conducted the editorial cuts in the abstract. "Individuals also perceived that others were more influenced by misinformation about COVID-19 than they were." has been as the first sentence and we have removed the part on “cognitive elaboration.

    3 Introduction / Literature Review
    I don't have suggestions about this section.
    4 Method
    ˆ My suggestion is to provide the survey instrument as an appendix (or upload it to repo. such as osf) It would give us a concrete picture of everything looks like (the included example of misinformation etc.).

    Reply: Thanks for your suggestion. We have provided instruments in details in the method part and we added the new Table 3 (see page 39) as well to present all instruments and factor loadings. Meanwhile, in our study, we briefly introduced the definition of misinformation and provided an example: if Americans drink Corona beer, they will become infected with the coronavirus disease. We then asked participants to write down a specific and similar example of COVID-19 misinformation and choose following answers based on their proposed misinformation.

    ˆ Could you provide information about how the sample size is chosen, maybe at the very least as a footnote? Would the section "Sample Characteristics" be better replaced by a typical "Table 1"? i.e. Characteristics of respondents. Along the same lines, I think the purpose of providing the "Sample Characteristics" is to show how representative is your sample. So, how representative is your sample?

    Reply: Thanks for these valuable comments. We have provided detailed information about how the sample size is finalized and inserted the footnote on page 12: “According to Kline (2015), the sample size/parameters ratio in the SEM should be larger than 20, which means there should be at least 20 participants for each estimated parameter in the model. In this study, we have collected 1,995 panel respondents and after removing 202 incomplete/disqualified answers, we finally achieved a total of 1,793 participants, meaning there is a 95% chance that the real value is within ±2.27% of the surveyed value based on a sample size calculation.”

    We also have created new Table 1 to present details of sample characteristics. Compared to the U.S. census statistics in 2019, data in our collected sample (n = 1,793 completed and qualified responses) demonstrate its representativeness in terms of the percentage distribution of gender, age, income, and education. Regarding ethnicity, we found that except Latino/Hispanic Native (only 6.2% instead of 18% were represented), almost every group was fully considered in this study. We thus put this issue in the limitation part and provide directions for future research as well. See page 22, “…the group of Latino/Hispanic Native were underrepresented in our final dataset and scholars might focus on the role of negative affections and TPE on Hispanic Americans’ restrictive and corrective actions in a future study.”

    References: Kline, R. B. (2015). Principles and practice of structural equation modeling. Guilford publications.

    ˆ Negative actions - I think the sentence "We then ran the exploratory factor analysis (EFA) to test whether the above-mentioned four questions" would be clearer, if it says "four questions on the four emotions".

    Reply: Yes, we totally agree with you and we have specified that it is four questions on the four emotions.

    Results
    5.1 Preliminary Data Analyses
    ˆ I think the section "Preliminary Data Analyses" should be called "Descriptive statistics" directly.

    Reply: We agree with you and we have named this part as “Descriptive statistics”.

    ˆ Page 16., it is the first time the variable "political tendency" is introduced. Could it be introduced earlier? Much better, if the author(s)could provide descriptive statistic like they did with other control variables such as Age. As the author(s) might know, COVID is a highly
    bipartisan issue.

    Reply: Thanks for this valuable suggestion. We have introduced this variable earlier in this revised version and provided descriptive statistics as well in the method part. See page 13, “Regarding political partisanship, 711 (39.7%) respondents identified themselves as democrats...”

    ˆ Could the correlation coe cients between control variables and your 7 variables be provided as well? (as an online appendix, if space is an issue.)

    Reply: We agree with you and the coefficients between control variables and the original seven variables have been provided in Table 2.

    5.2 Results of Hypothesis Testing
    ˆ Could a reference to the "two-step process" be provided? Also, why did it require for your analysis?

    Reply: This is a great suggestion. We have cited Cheung and Chan’s article in 2005 about the “two-step process”, which has been widely used in communication and information management quantitative data analysis (e.g., Cheng et al., 2018, 2019; Cheung, 2002). This process can be applied to “pool the correlation coefficients at stage one and then in stage two, and the structural model could be fitted to the pooled correlation matrix…This ensured that correlation coeffi-cients which were estimated with more precision (based on more studies) in stage one obtained more weight in the estimation of the model parameters in stage two” (Tarka, 2018, p. 325).

    References: Tarka, P. (2018). An overview of structural equation modeling: its beginnings, historical development, usefulness and controversies in the social sciences. Qual Quant, 52, 313–354, https://doi.org/10.1007/s11135-017-0469-8

    ˆ Could you also provide the loading of each item to each of its respective construct in Figure 2?

    Reply: Yes, we agree with you and we have provided factor loadings, AVE and CR scores of each construct in Table 3 (see page 39).

    6 Discussion
    6.1 Limitation and Directions for Future Research
    ˆ I think it is generally accepted that disinformation or hoaxes are misinformation. Misinformation is dealing with the truth value of the information. Rumor might not always be misinformation, it is just information spread socially.
    ˆ I am interested to know how can one study the causality of TPE with media experiment, for example.

    Reply: Thanks again for your valuable comments. We have deleted the content on disinformation or misinformation to exclude any confusion. Meanwhile, we added the directions for future research about the experimental study (details can be found on page 22).

    Additional Questions:
    Originality: Does the paper make a significant theoretical, empirical and/or methodological contribution to an area of importance, within the scope of the journal?: yes
    Relationship to Literature: Does the paper demonstrate an adequate understanding of the relevant literature in the field and cite an appropriate range of literature sources? Is any significant work ignored? Is the literature review up-to-date? Has relevant material published in Online Information Review been cited?: yes
    Methodology: Is the paper's argument built on an appropriate base of theory, concepts or other ideas? Has the research on which the paper is based been well designed? Are the methods employed appropriate and fully explained? Have issues of research ethics been adequately identified and addressed?: yes
    Results: For empirical papers - are results presented clearly and analysed appropriately?: See comments
    Discussion/Argument: Is the relation between any empirical findings and previous work discussed? Does the paper present a robust and coherent argument? To what extent does the paper engage critically with the literature and findings? Are theoretical concepts articulated well and used appropriately? Do the conclusions adequately tie together the other elements of the paper?: See comments
    Implications for research, practice and/or society: Does the paper identify clearly any implications for research, practice and/or society? Does the paper bridge the gap between theory and practice? How can the research be used in practice (economic and commercial impact), in teaching, to influence public policy, in research (contributing to the body of knowledge)? What is the impact upon society (influencing public attitudes, affecting quality of life)? Are these implications consistent with the findings and conclusions of the paper?: See comments
    Quality of Communication: Does the paper clearly express its case, measured against the technical language of the fields and the expected knowledge of the journal's readership? Has attention been paid to the clarity of expression and readability, such as sentence structure, jargon use, acronyms, etc.: Yes

    Reply: Again, your valuable comments are highly appreciated and super meaningful to this revision. We have followed your suggestions one by one and carefully proofread the whole article as well. In this revision progress, we have learned a lot and hope that you stay healthy and safe during the COVID-19 crisis.

    If you have any further questions, please kindly let us know. We look forward to your positive feedback.



    Cite this author response
  • pre-publication peer review (ROUND 1)
    Decision Letter
    2020/10/20

    20-Oct-2020

    Dear Dr. Cheng,

    Manuscript ID OIR-08-2020-0386 entitled "The Presumed Influence of Digital Misinformation: Examining Publics’ Support for Governmental Restrictions versus Corrective Action in the COVID-19 Pandemic" which you submitted to Online Information Review, has been reviewed. The comments of the reviewer(s) are included at the bottom of this letter.

    The reviewer(s) have recommended publication, but also suggest some minor revisions to your manuscript. Therefore, I invite you to respond to the reviewer(s)' comments and revise your manuscript. Please also ensure that in doing so your paper does not exceed the maximum word length of 10000 words and that it meets all the requirements of the author guidelines at http://www.emeraldinsight.com/products/journals/author_guidelines.htm?id=oir&PHPSESSID;=ubl727mru90lg3hc8sa5p5qrt2."

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    Once again, thank you for submitting your manuscript to Online Information Review and I look forward to receiving your revision.

    Yours sincerely,
    Dr. Eugenia Siapera

    Guest Editor
    Online Information Review

    Reviewer(s)' Comments to Author:
    Reviewer: 1

    Recommendation: Accept

    Comments:
    This is a well-argued and carefully researched study.

    Additional Questions:
    Originality: Does the paper make a significant theoretical, empirical and/or methodological contribution to an area of importance, within the scope of the journal?: The paper demonstrates novelty and originality. In this case, it offers new insights in its field.

    Relationship to Literature: Does the paper demonstrate an adequate understanding of the relevant literature in the field and cite an appropriate range of literature sources? Is any significant work ignored? Is the literature review up-to-date? Has relevant material published in Online Information Review been cited?: The paper demonstrates adequate understanding of relevant literature in the field of enquiry and has cited relevant literature sources.

    Methodology: Is the paper's argument built on an appropriate base of theory, concepts or other ideas? Has the research on which the paper is based been well designed? Are the methods employed appropriate and fully explained? Have issues of research ethics been adequately identified and addressed?: The methodology is accurately presented and captures the essence of the paper. All relevant ethical aspects of research are adequately identified and addressed.

    Results: For empirical papers - are results presented clearly and analysed appropriately?: The results are presented clearly and succinctly. The authors demonstrate efforts in terms of applying themselves in presenting the results appropriately

    Discussion/Argument: Is the relation between any empirical findings and previous work discussed? Does the paper present a robust and coherent argument? To what extent does the paper engage critically with the literature and findings? Are theoretical concepts articulated well and used appropriately? Do the conclusions adequately tie together the other elements of the paper?: The authors demonstrate high levels of knowledge in the field. They present their ideas coherently and clearly. The is a good balance between theoretical concepts and the findings. All major concepts are captured accurately and are consistent with theoretical underpinnings.

    Implications for research, practice and/or society: Does the paper identify clearly any implications for research, practice and/or society? Does the paper bridge the gap between theory and practice? How can the research be used in practice (economic and commercial impact), in teaching, to influence public policy, in research (contributing to the body of knowledge)? What is the impact upon society (influencing public attitudes, affecting quality of life)? Are these implications consistent with the findings and conclusions of the paper?: The paper discusses accurately the implications of the research, consistent with its findings and conclusions.

    Quality of Communication: Does the paper clearly express its case, measured against the technical language of the fields and the expected knowledge of the journal's readership? Has attention been paid to the clarity of expression and readability, such as sentence structure, jargon use, acronyms, etc.: The paper is highly technical, but it is presented in such a way that a reader can follow the arguments made and make sense of them. There is limited use of jargon and reads very well. Grammatically, the paper has no errors.

    Reproducible Research: If appropriate, is sufficient information, potentially including data and software, provided to reproduce the results and are the corresponding datasets formally cited?: The research can easily be replicated in other contexts.

    Reviewer: 2

    Recommendation: Minor Revision

    Comments:
    See attached pdf

    Additional Questions:
    Originality: Does the paper make a significant theoretical, empirical and/or methodological contribution to an area of importance, within the scope of the journal?: yes

    Relationship to Literature: Does the paper demonstrate an adequate understanding of the relevant literature in the field and cite an appropriate range of literature sources? Is any significant work ignored? Is the literature review up-to-date? Has relevant material published in Online Information Review been cited?: yes

    Methodology: Is the paper's argument built on an appropriate base of theory, concepts or other ideas? Has the research on which the paper is based been well designed? Are the methods employed appropriate and fully explained? Have issues of research ethics been adequately identified and addressed?: yes

    Results: For empirical papers - are results presented clearly and analysed appropriately?: See comments

    Discussion/Argument: Is the relation between any empirical findings and previous work discussed? Does the paper present a robust and coherent argument? To what extent does the paper engage critically with the literature and findings? Are theoretical concepts articulated well and used appropriately? Do the conclusions adequately tie together the other elements of the paper?: See comments

    Implications for research, practice and/or society: Does the paper identify clearly any implications for research, practice and/or society? Does the paper bridge the gap between theory and practice? How can the research be used in practice (economic and commercial impact), in teaching, to influence public policy, in research (contributing to the body of knowledge)? What is the impact upon society (influencing public attitudes, affecting quality of life)? Are these implications consistent with the findings and conclusions of the paper?: See comments

    Quality of Communication: Does the paper clearly express its case, measured against the technical language of the fields and the expected knowledge of the journal's readership? Has attention been paid to the clarity of expression and readability, such as sentence structure, jargon use, acronyms, etc.: Yes

    Decision letter by
    Cite this decision letter
    Reviewer report
    2020/10/16

    See attached pdf

    Reviewed by
    Cite this review
    Reviewer report
    2020/10/10

    This is a well-argued and carefully researched study.

    Cite this review
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