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Eric Mandelbaum
CUNY Research Foundation, Bernard Baruch College (New York, NY 10010-5585)
Propaganda and Belief in the Modern World

Three scholarly articles and a book-length study on the psychology of belief formation.

My project has two aims: to examine how people change their beliefs, modeling the expected results in terms of the Psychological Immune System, and to show how our belief acquisition faculties are perfectly mismatched to our modern informational environment, and thus ripe for influence by propaganda. The end goal is to write a book that offers a new take on the workings of extremism and propaganda in virtue of the Psychological Immune System. Specifically, I aim to demonstrate that most of the causal profile of belief is arational—people do not acquire or change beliefs in virtue of the facts before them; instead they adjust beliefs to minimize psychological pain, especially when they are distracted. The project is of interest to a wide range of scholars across the humanities and cognitive sciences. Because of the nature of the research—including its possible consequences for understanding how polarizing debates evolve—the results will also be of interest to the general public.

[Grant products]

Project fields:
Epistemology; Philosophy of Science; Philosophy, Other


Research Programs

$50,400 (approved)
$50,400 (awarded)

Grant period:
9/1/2018 – 8/31/2019