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New model for predicting belief change

Study: New model for predicting belief change
Belief networks and development of interdependence over measurements. Credit: Jonas Dalege and Tamara van der Does

A fresh sort of predictive network model may help determine which people changes their minds about contentious scientific issues when offered evidence-based information.

A report in Science Advances presents a framework to accurately predict in case a person changes their opinion in regards to a certain topic. The approach estimates the quantity of , or mental discomfort, one has from holding conflicting beliefs in regards to a topic.

Santa Fe Institute Postdoctoral Fellows Jonas Dalege and Tamara van der Does built on previous efforts to model belief change by integrating both moral and social beliefs right into a statistical physics framework of 20 interacting beliefs.

Then they used this cognitive network model to predict the way the beliefs of several nearly 1,000 people, who have been at the very least somewhat skeptical concerning the efficacy of genetically modified foods and , would change because the consequence of an educational intervention.

Study participants were shown a note concerning the on and vaccines. Those that began the analysis with plenty of dissonance within their interwoven network of beliefs were more prone to change their beliefs after viewing the messaging, however, not necessarily relative to the message. However, people who have little dissonance showed little change following a intervention.

“For instance, if you were to think that scientists are inherently trustworthy, however your friends and family let you know that vaccines are unsafe, that is likely to create some dissonance in your thoughts,” van der Does says. “We discovered that in the event that you were already sort of anti-GM foods or vaccines in the first place, you’ll just move more towards that direction when offered new information even though that wasn’t the intention of the intervention.”

While still within an early stage, the study could ultimately have important implications for communicating scientific, evidence-based information to the general public.

“On the main one hand you might like to target individuals who have some dissonance within their beliefs, but simultaneously this creates some danger that they can reduce their dissonance in a manner that you didn’t want them to,” Dalege says. “Continue, you want to expand this research to see if we are able to find out more about why people take certain paths to lessen their dissonance.”

More info: Jonas Dalege et al, Utilizing a cognitive network style of moral and social beliefs to describe belief change, Science Advances (2022). DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.abm0137

Citation: New model for predicting belief change (2022, August 20) retrieved 21 August 2022 from

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