Pictures are worth many words: Effectiveness of visual communication in dispelling the rent-control misconception.

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Abstract: The popular belief that rent–control leads to an increase in the amount of housing available to low–income families is in contradiction with ample empirical evidence and congruent theoretical explanations. It can therefore be qualified as a misconception. We present the results of an on–line experiment in which we study how to dispel the misconception using a refutational approach both in a video and in a text format. We find that the refutational video has a significantly higher positive impact on revising the misconception than a refutational text, an effect that is driven by the departure from the misconception by individuals who initially agreed with it. The refutational text, in turn, does not have a significant impact relative to a non–refutational baseline text. Higher cognitive ability positively affects the impact of all interventions, but does not interact with the intervention differences.


Keywords: misconceptions, online experiment, persuasion, refutation, written and visual communication