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PRODEMINFO (Protecting the Democratic Information Space in Europe)


   School of Psychological Science

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  Prof Stephan Lewandowsky, Prof David Garcia  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)

About the Project

PRODEMINFO (https://sks.to/prodeminfo) is funded by the European Research Council (ERC) and aims to gain a greater understanding of people’s perception of truth in an age rife with fake news and conspiracy theories. The project, which runs from October 2021 until September 2026, is a collaboration between the University of Bristol (UK), Graz University of Technology (Austria) and the University of Potsdam (Germany). Previous studies have shown how social media is a tool exploited by politicians to share false, potentially dangerous information, in the guise of authenticity. This project will test different techniques to protect people against misinformation depending on the individual’s views of what “truth” actually means. It ultimately aims to build tools to protect democracy in Europe by drawing a strategic arc from the threat arising from the insurgent populist ontology of truth to the development of protective solutions that can be rolled out at scale online.

The main objectives of PRODEMINFO are: (1) to understand contemporary misinformation in Europe and how it connects to people's tacit ontology of truth; (2) to develop countermessages based on inoculation theory that are sensitive to people's different ontologies (e.g., addressing authenticity rather than accuracy of political speech); and (3) to test such countermessages at scale on social media. PRODEMINFO will pursue these objectives by combining controlled behavioural and cognitive experimentation with "big data'' analyses of social media, simulation modelling of behaviour online, and text modelling of large corpora.

Applicants need to have a first or upper second-class (i.e., 2.1) honours degree (or international equivalent) in Psychology or related discipline (e.g., cognitive science).


Funding Notes

The studentship provides a tax-free stipend at the standard UKRI rate (approximately £15,000 per annum) for the duration of the studentship (3 years) plus tuition fees at the UK rate. Tuition fees can only be paid in full for UK applicants.
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