Experimental Design Details
All interventions are conducted as part of online surveys with different online panel providers. In total, we conduct five experiments:
Experiment 1: Priming experiment. We randomly assign psychological primes to all study subjects. Psychological primes relate to forming ten sentences, each sentence contains of five words. There are two treatment groups (T1 and T2). In T1 all subjects receive words and sentences with non-religious content. In T2 subjects receive five sentences with religious and five sentences with non-religious content.
After the priming, study subjects select their preferred information sources for different topics. There are four types of sources (media, government, academic, religious) and four types of topics (2 health topics, 1 environmental topic, 1 religious’ topic). The order in which topics appear and in which the sources are listed is randomized.
Experiment 2: Information acquisition. Experiment 2 consists of two parts. Both parts involve a two step-process. In the first step, participants can select one out of four article titles that they would like to read. Titles reflect two different sources (Muhammadiyah vs. Nadul Ulama – two religious bodies in Indonesia) and two different opinions (pro and against smoking). In step 2 subjects are randomized into whether they receive an article that contains their preferred title (one out of four title options) or not (three out of four title options). The body of the article (three paragraphs) is identical for each subject and reflects arguments pro and against smoking. This experimental set-up is randomly assigned to 50 percent of all participants and we refer to this as PART A. For the other 50 percent of participants, the procedure is the same as in PART A, but with the exception that we indicate at both stages (article selection and article reading) whether an article was fact-checked for its content or not. At stage 1 about one fourth of the article titles are marked as fact checked; at stage 2 about 50 percent of the articles are marked as fact checked.
Experiment 3: Cognitive load. We experimentally alter the cognitive load of subjects. Cognitive load tasks relate to the memorization of specific numbers. There are two treatment groups (T1 and T2). In T1 study subjects are asked to memorize a 1-digit number, while in T2 study subjects are asked to memorize a 6-digit number. Following this, study subjects select their preferred article. Subjects can select from four articles titles with titles reflecting 2 opinions (pro or against smoking) and 2 sources (Muhammadiyah vs. Nadul Ulama). In a second step, subjects are randomized to receive their preferred article (one quarter of the title options) vs. a non-preferred article (three-quarter of the title options).
Experiment 4: Opinion vs. Source. Experiment 4 shall shed light on the role of the information source (religious source) vis-à-vis the informational direction (pro vs. against smoking) for the preference for information and andand information processing. Experiment 4 has three treatment groups (T1, T2, T3). In T1, study subjects see only the titles of articles though no source is displayed. Once subjects select a title, subjects are randomized into receiving their preferred article or not. The article they receive does not display any source. T2 is identical to T1 with the exception that once subjects are assigned an article to read they also see the source of the article. T3 is identical to T2 with the exception that the source of the article is already revealed at the initial stage when subjects are asked to select their preferred article.
Experiment 5: Article styles and information processing. In experiments 1 to 4 all subjects receive the identical article. Each article contains three paragraphs reflecting different views: One paragraph listing argument against smoking, one paragraph listing arguments why smoking might be permitted under certain circumstances, and one paragraph listing arguments why smoking should be allowed. In experiment 5, the articles displayed are changed such that they only present one position. This means that articles with titles indicating “pro-smoking” only list arguments in favor of smoking arguments, while titles indicating “against-smoking” only list arguments against smoking. Apart from the information (article) displayed, the experimental set-up of experiment 5 is identical to experiment 2 (part A).