At a time when politics and science are at odds with the truth, conspiracy theories are on the rise and misinformation is rampant, Rutgers researchers say facts do matter and explain why beliefs are more rational than they might seem. In a study published in Psychological Review, researchers analyzed previous studies and have developed a new scientific theory they say is behind the psychology of belief. Those who don’t update their beliefs based on new information may look like they are being swayed by their desire to believe something else. However, the researchers argue that belief is not so simple.
“Even if you desperately want to continue to believe that the sun is shining, so you don’t have to cancel a planned picnic, you cannot continue to believe it is not raining,” says Joseph Sommer, a postdoctoral researcher and cognitive psychologist in the Rutgers Center for Cognitive Science. “On the other hand, a second type of belief processing can be controlled by desires. If you want to look only for evidence that agrees with you and ignore opposing views, or to try to reason away any arguments that disagree with your beliefs, you can do so.” To read the full story.