Reducing the spread of disinformation, psuedoscience and bullshit


Duration of the project:
2021 - 2025

Principal investigator:
doc. PaedDr. Vladimira Čavojová, PhD.

List of scientific co-workers:
Dr. Magdalena Adamus, PhD.
PhDr. Eva Ballová Mikušková, PhD.
PhDr. Ivan Brezina, PhD.
prof. Mgr. Peter Halama, PhD.
Mgr. Jakub Šrol, PhD.
Mgr. Jakub Lieskovský
Mgr. Ing. Peter Teličák
Mgr. Roman Burič
Mgr. Viktória Sunyík

Disinformation and epistemically suspect beliefs (ESBs) are no longer a domain of few obscure websites, but they increasingly become part of the mainstream discourse, as the number of people endorsing them is growing. To address these challenges the project will focus on the identification of cognitive, personality and social factors that underlie endorsing and spreading of disinformation and ESBs with the aim to verify several possibilities how to reduce these unfounded beliefs and disinformation stemming from them. The project will test four main intervention approaches aiming at reducing disinformation and ESBs: (1) increasing scientific thinking, (2) inoculation by counter-arguments, (3) information intervention increasing analytical thinking, and (4) manipulation of situational variables affecting the willingness to share bullshit. Ambition of the project is to expand the focus from the correlational studies to experimental verification of causal influences of the identified predictors, and from the understanding why people believe in ESBs to verification of possibilities how to reduce the spread of disinformation. Previous universal intervention efforts failed, which emphasize the importance of targeting the specific intervention depending on the characteristics of the target groups of people, therefore, one of the project's aims is to explore also the moderators of the efficacy of the tested interventions. Another related aim of the project is identification of the most vulnerable groups not only in terms of their inclination to ESBs, but also in terms of the health and economic consequences, or political radicalization. Results of the project will contribute to psychological knowledge of this rapidly growing field of study, and they will also lead to practical recommendations in the form of best-practices how to effectively reduce the spread of disinformation.

Key words:
unfounded beliefs, fake news, scientific reasoninf, debiasing