Changing entrenched beliefs to alter people’s behavior and increase societal welfare has been at the forefront of behavioral-science research, but with limited success. Here, we propose a new framework of characterizing beliefs as a multidimensional system of interdependent mental representations across three cognitive structures (e.g., beliefs, evidence, and perceived norms) that are dynamically influenced by complex informational landscapes: the BENDING (Beliefs, Evidence, Norms, Dynamic Information Networked Graphs) model. This account of individual and collective beliefs helps explain beliefs’ resilience to interventions and suggests that a promising avenue for increasing the effectiveness of misinformation-reduction efforts might involve graph-based representations of communities’ belief systems. This framework also opens new avenues for future research with meaningful implications for some of the most critical challenges facing modern society, from the climate crisis to pandemic preparedness.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- General Psychology
- collective beliefs
- mental representation
- social cognition