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Sander van der Linden: A Psychological Vaccine Against Misinformation about Climate Change

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10:50 AM, Friday 28 May 2021 EDT (1 hour 15 minutes)
Much like a viral contagion, false information about climate change can spread rapidly from one individual to another. Moreover, once lodged in memory, misinformation is difficult to correct. Inoculation theory, therefore, offers a natural basis for developing a psychological ‘vaccine’ against the spread of fake news and misinformation about climate change. Specifically, in a series of randomized lab and field studies, we show that it is possible to pre-emptively “immunize” people against climate disinformation by pre-exposing them to severely weakened doses of the techniques that underlie its production. This psychological process helps people cultivate cognitive antibodies in a simulated social media environment. During the talk, I’ll showcase an award-winning real-world intervention (“Bad News”) we developed and empirically evaluated in 20 languages—with governments and social media companies—to help citizens around the world recognize and resist unwanted attempts to influence and mislead.

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