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Belief Change: A New Predictive Network Model

Published: 2022-08-21 - Updated: 2023-01-04
Author: Santa Fe Institute | Contact: santafe.edu
Peer-Reviewed Publication: Yes | DOI: https://www.science.org/doi/10.1126/sciadv.abm0137
Additional References: Medical Research News Publications

Synopsis: Belief revision study presents a framework to accurately predict if a person will change their opinion about a specific topic. The approach estimates the amount of dissonance or mental discomfort a person has from holding conflicting beliefs about a topic. While still early, the research could ultimately have essential implications for communicating scientific, evidence-based information to the public.

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Definition

Belief Change

Belief change, or belief revision, is changing beliefs to consider a new piece of information. The logical formalization of belief revision is researched in philosophy, databases, and artificial intelligence to design rational agents. It is changing beliefs to consider a new piece of information. The logical formalization of belief revision is researched in philosophy, in databases, and in artificial intelligence to design rational agents.

In general, there are two kinds of belief changes:

  • Revision: Both the old beliefs and the new information refer to the same situation; an inconsistency between the new and old information is explained by the possibility of old information being less reliable than the new one; revision is the process of inserting the new information into the set of old beliefs without generating an inconsistency.
  • Update: The new information is about the situation at present, while the old beliefs refer to the past; the update is the operation of changing the old beliefs to take into account the change.

Main Digest

Using a Cognitive Network Model of Moral and Social Beliefs to Explain Belief Change

A new predictive network model could help determine which people will change their minds about contentious scientific issues when presented with evidence-based information.

Related Publications:

A study in Science Advances presents a framework to accurately predict if a person will change their opinion about a certain topic. The approach estimates the amount of dissonance or mental discomfort a person has from holding conflicting beliefs about 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 into a statistical physics framework of 20 interacting beliefs.

They then used this cognitive network model to predict how the beliefs of a group of nearly 1,000 people, who were at least somewhat skeptical about the efficacy of genetically modified foods and childhood vaccines, would change as the result of an educational intervention.

Chart shows belief networks and development of interdependence over measurements - Image Credit: Jonas Dalege and Tamara van der Does.
Chart shows belief networks and development of interdependence over measurements - Image Credit: Jonas Dalege and Tamara van der Does.

Study participants were shown a message about the scientific consensus on genetic modification and vaccines. Those who began the study with a lot of dissonance in their interwoven network of beliefs were more likely to change their beliefs after viewing the messaging, but not necessarily in accordance with the message. On the other hand, people with little dissonance showed little change following the intervention.

"For example, if you believe that scientists are inherently trustworthy, but your family and friends tell you that vaccines are unsafe, this is going to create some dissonance in your mind," van der Does says. "We found that if you were already kind of anti-GM foods or vaccines, to begin with, you would move more towards that direction when presented with new information even if that wasn't the intention of the intervention."

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

"On the one hand, you might want to target people who have some dissonance in their beliefs, but at the same time, this also creates some danger that they will reduce their dissonance in a way that you didn't want them to," Dalege says. "Moving forward, we want to expand this research to see if we can learn more about why people take certain paths to reduce their dissonance."

Reference Source(s):

Belief Change: A New Predictive Network Model | Santa Fe Institute (santafe.edu). Disabled World makes no warranties or representations in connection therewith. Content may have been edited for style, clarity or length.

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Cite This Page (APA): Santa Fe Institute. (2022, August 21). Belief Change: A New Predictive Network Model. Disabled World. Retrieved January 30, 2023 from www.disabled-world.com/news/research/belief.php

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