This talk is part of the webinar series on Persuasive Statistics, organised by the Statistics Communication section.
Much like a viral contagion, misinformation can spread rapidly from one mind to another. Moreover, once lodged in memory, falsehoods are difficult to correct. Misinformation often makes use of misleading techniques that prey on people’s tendency to struggle with numbers and probabilities. Inoculation theory therefore offers a natural basis for developing a psychological ‘vaccine’ against the spread of fake news and conspiracy theories. Specifically, in a series of lab and field studies, I’ll show that it is possible to pre-emptively “immunize” people against disinformation about a wide range of topics by pre-exposing them to severely weakened doses of the techniques that underlie its production. This process of ‘prebunking’ helps people cultivate cognitive antibodies in a simulated social media environment. During the talk, I’ll showcase several studies and interventions we developed and evaluated—with public health authorities and social media companies—to help citizens around the world recognize and resist unwanted attempts to influence and mislead.
Professor Sander van der Linden – University of Cambridge
Sander is interested in the social influence and persuasion process and how people are influenced by (mis)information and gain resistance to persuasion through psychological inoculation. He is the author of the book FOOLPROOF: Why Misinformation Infects Our Minds and How to Build Immunity.