No. 1043 - Exposure to media and corruption perceptions

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by Lucia Rizzica and Marco Tonello November 2015

We analyse the impact of exposure to corruption news on individuals’ perceptions about the extent of the phenomenon.

To this purpose, we take information on individuals’ perceptions of the likelihood that corruption events may occur in everyday life and combine it with a dataset containing the number of news items related to corruption that appeared on the homepages of the websites of the 30 most widely read national and local newspapers on the day on which the individual was interviewed.

Results show that increasing potential exposure to corruption news by one standard deviation causes an increase in corruption perception of about 3.5 per cent and a decrease in trust in justice effectiveness of about 5.2 per cent. We suggest that these effects are mainly driven by a persuasive mechanism rather than by a learning process so that individuals’ perceptions about corruption appear to be biased by media content.

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