How False Beliefs Form and How to Correct Them

On July 7, 2021, the National Science Foundation (NSF) provided funding for a research project called “How False Beliefs Form and How to Correct Them.” This project was led by Lisa Fazio, an Associate Professor of Psychology and Human Development at Vanderbilt University, and has received a total of $506,478 in funding from the NSF. The research aims to combat online misinformation by correcting false beliefs. The project is being conducted in partnership with fact-checkers.

The National Science Foundation (NSF) has funded a project titled “How False Beliefs Form and How to Correct Them,” which aims to understand the effects of misinformation on people’s beliefs and how to effectively counteract them. The research, which is being conducted in partnership with fact-checkers, will examine the effects of repetition on belief in real-world settings through laboratory and naturalistic experiments, with a focus on misinformation on social media. The NSF states that the results of the research will be shared with fact-checking practitioners and will inform “real-world practices aimed at reducing the impact of misinformation.” It is not specified which fact-checkers are involved in the project.

False beliefs can form in a variety of ways. For example, people may encounter misinformation that is presented in a way that is difficult to fact-check or that aligns with their preexisting beliefs. People may also be more likely to believe misinformation if it is presented by a source that they perceive as credible or if it is repeated multiple times. False beliefs may also be formed as a result of confirmation bias, where people seek out information that supports their existing beliefs and discount information that contradicts them.

To correct false beliefs, it can be helpful to present people with accurate information and to explain why the false belief is incorrect. It can also be helpful to provide people with context and to help them understand the origins of false beliefs. Fact-checking can be an effective way to identify and correct false beliefs, as can educational campaigns and media literacy programs. It is important to approach the correction of false beliefs in a respectful and non-confrontational manner, as people are more likely to be receptive to corrections if they do not feel attacked or threatened.

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