Fact resistance, political psychology and truth relativism

The Oxford Dictionaries famously named post-truth “word of the year” in 2016, and its relevance has not declined since. As false news are spread at a higher rate than real news online and the importance of facts in political discourse is receding, those who wish to get the public’s attention have fewer incentives to be accurate and may instead resort to seductive narratives and demagoguery. It is easy to get the impression that anything can be true as long as it feels true.

The overarching aim of my PhD project is to examine how receptivity to misinformation is related to political orientation and core beliefs, such as epistemic beliefs on the nature of truth.

Political orientation

A person’s political convictions are an important part of her view of the world and how she interacts with it. In our study from 2022, we examined the roles of political orientation and analytical thinking in participants’ evaluations of politically laden arguments in the form of syllogisms. You can read more about the study and an interview with me here.

Core beliefs and truth relativism

Is truth relative to how we personally experience things? Or would a statement need to correspond with an external reality in order to be true? And, do your answers to these types of questions play a role in how you evaluate (mis)information?

Beliefs on the nature of truth are part of our core beliefs about the world. Most of us hold such beliefs whether we are aware of them or not. I am currently examining the role of core beliefs in general, and core epistemic beliefs on the nature of truth in particular, in receptivity to misinformation.