The synchronization of collective beliefs: From dyadic interactions to network convergence

Madalina Vlasceanu, Michael J. Morais, Ajua Duker, Alin Coman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Systems of beliefs organized around religion, politics, and health constitute the building blocks of human communities. One central feature of these collectively held beliefs is their dynamic nature. Here, we study the dynamics of belief endorsement in lab-created 12-member networks using a 2-phase communication model. Individuals first evaluate the believability of a set of beliefs, after which, in Phase 1, some networks listen to a public speaker mentioning a subset of the previously evaluated beliefs while other networks complete a distracter task. In Phase 2, all participants engage in conversations within their network to discuss the initially evaluated beliefs. Believability is then measured both post conversation and after one week. We find that the public speaker impacts the community's beliefs by altering their mnemonic accessibility. This influence is long-lasting and amplified by subsequent conversations, resulting in community-wide belief synchronization. These findings point to optimal sociocognitive strategies for combating misinformation in social networks.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)453-464
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Experimental Psychology: Applied
Volume26
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology

Keywords

  • Belief synchronization
  • Collective beliefs
  • Social networks
  • Socially-shared retrieval-induced forgetting

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