New Ideas in Evolution and Social Cognition

Evolved psychological biases and dissemination of political information in social network

Practical information
15 October 2019

ENS, U203, 29 rue d'Ulm, 75005 Paris


Many political news stories reach citizens via a two-step process, transmitted to them indirectly via their social networks. Yet, why do some news stories “go viral” and become transmitted heavily in citizens’ social networks with strong impact on their political pinions while others go by almost unnoticed? In this talk, I integrate theories from cognitive and evolutionary psychology into classical political science research on the flow of political communication to argue that political news stories that resonate with deep-seated psychological biases will be transmitted more and have stronger impact on citizens’ political opinions when they transmitted in their social networks. Focusing on evolved biases for cheater detection and vivid social information, I present experimental evidence from large-scale chain transmission studies collected in Denmark and the United States supporting this argument.