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    Understanding and supporting belief accuracy in a digital world

    Burton, Jason William (2022) Understanding and supporting belief accuracy in a digital world. PhD thesis, Birkbeck, University of London.

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    Advances in computing capacities have given rise to a “digital world” in which information can be accessed and shared at a faster pace, larger scale, and lower cost than what was previously possible. While this new digital world has promised a more informed public, research over the past decade has raised major concerns about the accuracy of people’s beliefs, pointing to increasing polarisation, anti-intellectualism, and conspiratorial thinking. Efforts to understand why the promise of the digital world has not been realised often follow one of two perspectives. On one hand, psychological studies argue that humans process information irrationally to believe what they want to believe. On the other hand, studies of new digital media argue that structural features of the digital world present distorted information to users. In this thesis, I challenge these literatures by highlighting the limitations of widely-accepted research methods, and provide initial evidence that the same technologies denounced for undermining the integrity of our beliefs can be re-designed to promote accurate decision making. Using Herbert Simon’s theory of bounded rationality as an organising framework, I present three studies examining (1)optimistic belief updating as a psychological account of belief inaccuracy “in the mind,” (2) moral contagion as a structural account of belief inaccuracy “in the world,” and (3) rewiring algorithms as a novel digital tool to support belief accuracy online. Theoretical, methodological, and practical implications are discussed.


    Item Type: Thesis
    Copyright Holders: The copyright of this thesis rests with the author, who asserts his/her right to be known as such according to the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988. No dealing with the thesis contrary to the copyright or moral rights of the author is permitted.
    Depositing User: Acquisitions And Metadata
    Date Deposited: 09 May 2022 12:22
    Last Modified: 01 Nov 2023 15:32


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