Misinformation: Why is it a problem and what can we do about it?

March 6, 2024
2:00 PM ET
Wexner Building – W-434 A.B. Conference Room, HKS Campus
This event was part of the Speaker Series on Misinformation, co-sponsored by the Shorenstein Center for Media, Politics and Public Policy at Harvard's Kennedy School and the NULab at Northeastern University.

Why can’t people just realize when something is false and then not believe it? Professor Lisa Fazio discusses the cognitive mechanisms that make exposure to misinformation problematic, even when people should realize it is false. Laboratory studies demonstrate that people often fail to notice errors in what they read or hear. In addition, repetition increases belief in false statements. These effects of repetition occur with many different types of statements (e.g., trivia facts, news headlines, advertisements), and even when the false statement contradicts participants’ prior knowledge. Professor Lazio presents a series of studies demonstrating that the effects of repetition are widespread – occurring in naturalistic settings and across development. The talk concludes by presenting findings from a large interdisciplinary, 30,600 participant megastudy designed to identify the efficacy of popular misinformation interventions. The collaborative study featured nine prominent misinformation interventions and tested their efficacy at reducing belief in and sharing of false and misleading health-related and political information.

About the Speaker:

Lisa Fazio is Associate Professor of Psychology and Human Development at Vanderbilt University.