26th May, 4PM EST DISINFORMATION SEMINAR SERIES: Understanding and Reducing Online Misinformation Across 16 Countries on Six Continents


Dr. Una-May O'Reilly
Zoom link for the talk: https://mit.zoom.us/j/99788185253

The spread of misinformation online is a global problem that requires global solutions. To that end, we conducted an experiment in 16 countries across 6 continents (N = 33,480) to investigate predictors of susceptibility to misinformation and interventions to combat misinformation. In every country, participants with a more analytic cognitive style and stronger accuracy related motivations were better at discerning truth from falsehood; valuing democracy was also associated with greater truth discernment whereas political conservatism was negatively associated with truth discernment in most countries. Subtly prompting people to think about accuracy was broadly effective at improving the veracity of news that people were willing to share, as were minimal digital literacy tips. Finally, crowdsourced accuracy evaluation was able to differentiate true from false headlines with high accuracy in all countries. The consistent patterns we observe suggest that the psychological factors underlying the misinformation challenge are similar across the globe, and that similar solutions may be broadly effective.

Speaker Biography:
Adam J. Berinsky is the Mitsui Professor of Political Science at MIT. Berinsky received his PhD. from the University of Michigan. He is a specialist in the fields of political behavior and public opinion with over 20 years of experience in survey design and analysis. He is the author of In Time of War: Understanding American Public Opinion from World War II to Iraq (University of Chicago Press, 2009) and Silent Voices: Public Opinion and Political Participation in America (Princeton University Press, 2004) and has published articles in many academic journals. He has won several scholarly awards, is the recipient of multiple grants from the National Science Foundation, was a fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences, and has been a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellow. He is also the founding director of the MIT Political Experiments Research Lab.