Podcast: Fact or fiction? The US election and the psychology of misinformation

28 October 2020

Why do people believe the falsehoods they read online, and what impact is this having on politics and policy? On this special Policy Forum Pod in the lead-up to the United States election, we look at misinformation and disinformation in the ‘land of the free’.

The Internet and social media has revolutionised the way people access and share information. But unfortunately, not all information was created equal, and information revolution has also led to an explosion of rumours, half-truths and even straight-out lies that can spread at lightning speed, shared unknowingly (and sometimes knowingly) by users all around the world. But why do people believe so much of what they see online? What impact is misinformation and ‘fake news’ having on our political systems? And what can policymakers do to tackle it? On this special episode of Policy Forum Pod ahead of the United States presidential election, we’re joined by cognitive psychologist Dr Eryn Newman and national security expert Dr Jennifer Hunt to discuss these questions and more. Listen here:

Jennifer Hunt is a Lecturer at the National Security College and a Research Associate at the US Studies Centre.

Eryn Newman is a Lecturer at ANU Research School of Psychology. Eryn’s research focuses on distortions of memory and cognition, looking at how people can succumb to ‘truthiness’ – using feelings and pseudo-evidence to decide what is real, instead of drawing on facts.

Angus Blackman is Associate Editor of Policy Forum and a presenter for Policy Forum Pod.

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