Jay Van Bavel

Jay Van Bavel
New York University | NYU · Department of Psychology

Doctor of Philosophy

About

204
Publications
133,013
Reads
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10,335
Citations
Additional affiliations
September 2008 - December 2009
The Ohio State University
Position
  • PostDoc Position

Publications

Publications (204)
Chapter
Cooperation occurs at all stages of human life and is necessary for small groups and large-scale societies alike to emerge and thrive. This chapter bridges research in the fields of cognitive neuroscience, neuroeconomics, and social psychology to help understand group cooperation. We present a value-based framework for understanding cooperation, in...
Article
While conspiracy theories may offer benefits to those who believe in them, they can also foster intergroup conflict, threaten democracy, and undercut public health. We argue that the motivations behind conspiracy theory belief are often related to social identity. Conspiracy theories are well-positioned to fulfill social identity needs such as belo...
Article
This article develops a dual-agency model of leadership which treats collective phenomena as a co-production involving both leaders and followers who identify with the same social group. The model integrates work on identity leadership and engaged followership derived from the social identity approach in social psychology. In contrast to binary mod...
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Full-text available
A large body of research has found mixed evidence that people who are quick to dismiss randomness as a potential cause for an event are also more likely to believe conspiracy theories. To clarify the relationship between randomness dismissal and conspiracist ideation, we conducted a high-powered preregistered replication of an influential study in...
Preprint
Online misinformation poses a significant threat to global challenges, such as the COVID-19 pandemic and climate change. Misinformation is disproportionality shared by people with extreme political attitudes, especially among the far right. To understand the psychological and neurocognitive processes that underlie misinformation sharing among extre...
Article
The affective animosity between the political left and right has grown steadily in many countries over the past few years, posing a threat to democratic practices and public health. There is a rising concern over the role that “bad actors” or trolls may play in the polarization of online networks. In this research, we examined the processes by whic...
Article
The aim of the social and behavioral sciences is to understand human behavior across a wide array of contexts. Our theories often make sweeping claims about human nature, assuming that our ancestors or offspring will be prone to the same biases and preferences. Yet we gloss over the fact that our research is often based in a single temporal context...
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Full-text available
Changing collective behaviour and supporting non-pharmaceutical interventions is an important component in mitigating virus transmission during a pandemic. In a large international collaboration (Study 1, N = 49,968 across 67 countries), we investigated self-reported factors associated with public health behaviours (e.g., spatial distancing and str...
Preprint
Liberals and conservatives are divided in their judgements about the accuracy of true and false news. Yet it is unclear whether this partisan divide reflects genuine differences in knowledge, or whether it can be overcome if people are motivated to be accurate. Across three experiments ( n = 2,381), we motivated participants to be accurate by givin...
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Full-text available
According to recent work, subtly nudging people to think about accuracy can reduce the sharing of COVID-19 misinformation online (Pennycook et al., 2020). The authors argue that inattention to accuracy is a key factor behind the sharing of misinformation. They further argue that “partisanship is not, apparently, the key factor distracting people fr...
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Full-text available
The COVID-19 global pandemic has brought far-reaching consequences on individual and societal levels. Social distancing and physical hygiene constitute effective public health measures to limit the spread of the virus. The current study investigates individual age and gender demographics, in interaction with a country’s human development index (HDI...
Article
Conspiracy theories related to coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) have propagated around the globe, leading the World Health Organization to declare the spread of misinformation an “Infodemic.” We tested the hypothesis that national narcissism—a belief in the greatness of one’s nation that requires external recognition—is associated with the sprea...
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Full-text available
Partisan and ideological identities are a consistent barrier to the adoption of climate change mitigation policies, especially in countries where fossil fuel reliance is the highest. We review how understanding collective cognition may help overcome such barriers by changing norms, promoting cooperation, downplaying partisan identities, or leveragi...
Article
We test three competing theoretical accounts invoked to explain the rise and spread of political (mis)information. We compare the ideological values hypothesis (people prefer news that bolster their values and worldviews); the confirmation bias hypothesis (people prefer news that fit their preexisting stereotypical knowledge); and the political ide...
Article
Rationale/objective The COVID-19 pandemic has brought far-reaching consequences on individual and societal levels. Social distancing and physical hygiene constitute effective public health measures to limit the spread of the virus. This study investigated age and gender demographics, in tandem with national levels of human development, as crucial f...
Article
This article reviews the empirical evidence on the relationship between social media and political polarization. We argue that social media shapes polarization through the following social, cognitive, and technological processes: partisan selection, message content, and platform design and algorithms.
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Full-text available
Collective behavior provides a framework for understanding how the actions and properties of groups emerge from the way individuals generate and share information. In humans, information flows were initially shaped by natural selection yet are increasingly structured by emerging communication technologies. Our larger, more complex social networks n...
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There has been growing concern about the role social media plays in political polarization. We investigated whether out-group animosity was particularly successful at generating engagement on two of the largest social media platforms: Facebook and Twitter. Analyzing posts from news media accounts and US congressional members ( n = 2,730,215), we fo...
Chapter
Over the past few decades, two-factor models of social cognition have emerged as the dominant framework for understanding impression formation. Despite the differences in the labels, there is wide agreement that one dimension reflects sociability potential, and the other, competence. One way in which the various two-factor models do clearly differ,...
Article
The rise of peer-to-peer platforms has represented one of the major economic and societal developments observed in the last decade. We investigated whether people engage in racial discrimination in the sharing economy, and how such discrimination might be explained and mitigated. Using a set of carefully controlled experiments (N = 1,599), includin...
Preprint
Full-text available
Beliefs have long been posited to be a predictor of behavior. However, empirical evidence of the relationship between beliefs and behaviors has been mostly correlational in nature and provided conflicting findings. Here, we investigated the causal impact of beliefs on behaviors across three experiments (N=659). Participants rated the accuracy of a...
Article
Multiracial individuals are often categorized as members of their ‘socially subordinate’ racial group—a form of social discrimination termed hypodescent—with political conservatives more likely than liberals to show this bias. Although hypodescent has been linked to racial hierarchy preservation motives, it remains unclear how political ideology in...
Article
How do people form their political beliefs? In an effort to address this question, we adopt a neuropsychological approach. In a natural experiment, we explored links between neuroanatomy and ideological preferences in two samples of brain lesion patients in New York City. Specifically, we compared the political orientations of patients with frontal...
Preprint
Over 4 billion people now use social media platforms. As our social lives become more entangled than ever before with online social networks, it is important to understand the dynamics of online information diffusion. This is particularly true for the political domain, as political elites, disinformation profiteers and social activists all utilize...
Preprint
As social interactions increasingly occur through social media platforms, intergroup affective phenomena such as “outrage firestorms” and “cancel culture” have emerged with notable consequences for society. In this research, we examine how social identity shapes the antecedents and functional outcomes of moral emotion expression online. Across four...
Preprint
The aim of the social and behavioral sciences is to understand human behavior across a wide array of contexts. Our theories often make sweeping claims about human nature, assuming that our ancestors or offspring will be prone to the same biases and preferences. Yet we gloss over the fact that our research is often based in a single temporal context...
Article
There is currently a debate in political psychology about whether dogmatism and belief superiority are symmetric or asymmetric across the ideological spectrum. Toner, Leary, Asher, and Jongman-Sereno (2013) found that dogmatism was higher among conservatives than liberals, but both conservatives and liberals with extreme attitudes reported higher p...
Preprint
Full-text available
Partisan and ideological identities are a consistent barrier to the adoption of climate change mitigation policies, especially in Anglophone countries where fossil fuel reliance is the highest. We review how understanding collective cognition may help overcome such barriers by changing norms, promoting cooperation, downplaying partisan identities,...
Preprint
Facts are not what they used to be. Whether you are checking the news or opening the latest journal article, there is increasing evidence that people are more susceptible to misinformation and less receptive to factual arguments than we might hope. While fact checks can be effective in some domains (e.g., health), they prove to be a very weak antid...
Article
We invited authors of selected Comments and Perspectives published in Nature Machine Intelligence in the latter half of 2019 and first half of 2020 to describe how their topic has developed, what their thoughts are about the challenges of 2020, and what they look forward to in 2021.
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Full-text available
The spread of misinformation, including “fake news,” propaganda, and conspiracy theories, represents a serious threat to society, as it has the potential to alter beliefs, behavior, and policy. Research is beginning to disentangle how and why misinformation is spread and identify processes that contribute to this social problem. We propose an integ...
Article
Moral and immoral actions often involve multiple individuals who play different roles in bringing about the outcome. For example, one agent may deliberate and decide what to do while another may plan and implement that decision. We suggest that the Mindset Theory of Action Phases provides a useful lens through which to understand these cases and th...
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Full-text available
Numerous polls suggest that COVID-19 is a profoundly partisan issue in the United States. Using the geotracking data of 15 million smartphones per day, we found that US counties that voted for Donald Trump (Republican) over Hillary Clinton (Democrat) in the 2016 presidential election exhibited 14% less physical distancing between March and May 2020...
Preprint
Full-text available
Why have citizens become increasingly polarized? The answer is that there is increasing identification with political parties —a process known as partisanship (Mason, 2018). This chapter will focus on the role that social identity plays in contemporary politics (Greene, 2002). These party identities influence political preferences, such that partis...
Article
Full-text available
Despite decades of research in economics and psychology attempting to identify ingredients that make up successful teams, neuroscientists have only just begun to study how multiple brains interact. Recent research has shown that people's brain activity becomes synchronized with others' (inter-brain synchrony) during social engagement. However, litt...
Preprint
The spread of misinformation, including “fake news,” disinformation, and conspiracy theories, represents a serious threat to society, as it has the potential to alter beliefs, behavior, and policy. Research is beginning to disentangle how and why misinformation is spread and identify processes that contribute to this social problem. Here, we review...
Preprint
Full-text available
The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic is a devastating global health crisis. Without a vaccine or effective medication, the best hope for mitigating virus transmission is collective behavior change and support for public health interventions (e.g., physical distancing, physical hygiene, and endorsement of health policies). In a large-scale international co...
Preprint
The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic is a devastating global health crisis. Without a vaccine or effective medication, the best hope for mitigating virus transmission is collective behavior change and support for public health interventions (e.g., physical distancing, physical hygiene, and endorsement of health policies). In a large-scale international co...
Preprint
Full-text available
The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic is a devastating global health crisis. Without a vaccine or effective medication, the best hope for mitigating virus transmission is collective behavior change and support for public health interventions (e.g., physical distancing, physical hygiene, and endorsement of health policies). In a large-scale international co...
Article
Full-text available
Social science researchers are predominantly liberal, and critics have argued this representation may reduce the robustness of research by embedding liberal values into the research process. In an adversarial collaboration, we examined whether the political slant of research findings in psychology is associated with lower rates of scientific replic...
Preprint
Full-text available
Political polarization, or the ideological distance between the political left and right, has grown steadily in recent decades. There is a rising concern over the role that ‘bad actors’ or trolls may play in polarization in online networks. In this research, we examine the processes by which trolls may sow intergroup conflict through polarizing rhe...
Preprint
Full-text available
Despite decades of research in economics and psychology attempting to identify ingredients that make up successful teams, neuroscientists have only just begun to study how multiple brains interact. Recent research has shown that people’s brain activity becomes synchronized with others’ (inter-brain synchrony) during social engagement. However, litt...
Article
Full-text available
With more than 3 billion users, online social networks represent an important venue for moral and political discourse and have been used to organize political revolutions, influence elections, and raise awareness of social issues. These examples rely on a common process to be effective: the ability to engage users and spread moralized content throu...
Preprint
During the current global pandemic (Coronavirus/COVID-19), policy-makers and citizens in numerous countries have been unprepared to respond, or been responding too late. Why are so many people hesitant to take precautionary action? In three experiments on health risk prediction (N = 2,300 Americans), we identified two kinds of relative optimism. Pa...
Preprint
Full-text available
Few things bind disparate groups together like a common obstacle. Yet, numerous polls suggest that the COVID-19 pandemic has been subject to a deep partisan divide. Using geo-tracking data of over 17 million smartphone users around the United States, we examined whether partisan differences predict objective physical-distancing behaviors. U.S. coun...
Preprint
Full-text available
While COVID-19 was quietly spreading across the globe, conspiracy theories were finding loud voices on the internet. What contributes to the spread of these theories? In two national surveys (NTotal = 950) conducted in the United States and the United Kingdom, we identified national narcissism – a belief in the greatness of one’s nation that others...
Preprint
There is currently a debate in political psychology about whether dogmatism and belief superiority are symmetric or asymmetric across the ideological spectrum. One study found that dogmatism was higher amongst conservatives than liberals, but both conservatives and liberals with extreme attitudes reported higher perceived superiority of beliefs (To...
Article
Full-text available
Humans are highly attuned to perceptual cues about their values. A growing body of evidence suggests that people selectively attend to moral stimuli. However, it is unknown whether morality is prioritized early in perception or much later in cognitive processing. We use a combination of behavioral methods and electroencephalography to investigate h...
Article
To what extent are research results influenced by subjective decisions that scientists make as they design studies? Fifteen research teams independently designed studies to answer five original research questions related to moral judgments, negotiations, and implicit cognition. Participants from 2 separate large samples (total N > 15,000) were then...
Article
Full-text available
The COVID-19 pandemic represents a massive global health crisis. Because the crisis requires large-scale behaviour change and places significant psychological burdens on individuals, insights from the social and behavioural sciences can be used to help align human behaviour with the recommendations of epidemiologists and public health experts. Here...
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Full-text available
(word count = 150). Cooperation is necessary for solving numerous social issues, including climate change, effective governance, and economic stability. Value-based decision models contend that prosocial tendencies and social context shape people's preferences for cooperative or selfish behavior. Using functional neuroimaging and computational mode...
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Full-text available
Understanding the roots of human cooperation, a social phenomenon embedded in pressing issues including climate change and social conflict, requires an interdisciplinary perspective. We propose a unifying value-based framework for understanding cooperation that integrates neuroeconomic models of decision-making with psychological variables involved...
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Full-text available
In this commentary, we offer an additional function of rationalization. Namely, in certain social contexts, the proximal and ultimate function of beliefs and desires is social inclusion. In such contexts, rationalization often facilitates distortion of rather than approximation to truth. Understanding the role of social identity is not only timely...
Article
Full-text available
As artificial intelligence becomes prevalent in society, a framework is needed to connect interpretability and trust in algorithm-assisted decisions, for a range of stakeholders.
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Full-text available
Access to the Stanford University archive has revealed new material that makes it possible to debate the precise nature and causes of events in the Stanford Prison Experiment. What the authors see as important is that these materials show the experimenters engaged in processes of identity leadership, which encouraged guard cruelty by presenting it...
Preprint
Full-text available
The COVID-19 pandemic represents a massive, global health crisis. Because the crisis requires large-scale behavior change and poses significant psychological burdens on individuals, insights from the social and behavioural sciences are critical for optimizing pandemic response. Here we review relevant research from a diversity of research areas rel...
Preprint
Full-text available
Can scientists be trusted to conduct unbiased science? There is a growing body of papers arguing that psychological research is guided by “ideological epistemology”. According to this account, people are innately tribal in their political dispositions and these allegiances inevitably produce groupthink and guide them away from the truth--leading to...
Preprint
Full-text available
Humans are highly attuned to perceptual cues about their values. A growing body of evidence suggests that people selectively attend to moral stimuli. However, it is unknown whether morality is prioritized early in perception or much later in cognitive processing. We use a combination of behavioral methods and electroencephalography to investigate h...
Preprint
Full-text available
Social change does not always equal social progress--there is a dark side of social movements. We discuss conspiracy theory beliefs –beliefs that a powerful group of people are secretly working towards a malicious goal–as one contributor to destructive social movements. Research has linked conspiracy theory beliefs to anti-democratic attitudes, pre...
Article
Social change does not always equal social progress—there is a dark side of social movements. We discuss conspiracy theory beliefs – beliefs that a powerful group of people are secretly working towards a malicious goal – as one contributor to destructive social movements. Research has linked conspiracy theory beliefs to anti-democratic attitudes, p...
Article
Full-text available
To what extent are research results influenced by subjective decisions that scientists make as they design studies? Fifteen research teams independently designed studies to answer five original research questions related to moral judgments, negotiations, and implicit cognition. Participants from two separate large samples (total N > 15,000) were th...
Preprint
It is now possible to debate the processes involved in the Stanford Prison Experiment, and the broader nature of human cruelty, because the original materials from the study are now publicly accessible. Thanks to this access we can now see how leadership permeated the study from start to finish. While social norms of harshness may have played a key...