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David Rand

Misinformation & Fake News Research Group Lead

David Rand is the Erwin H. Schell Professor and Professor of Management Science and Brain and Cognitive Sciences at MIT, an affiliate of the MIT Institute of Data, Systems, and Society, and the director of the Human Cooperation Laboratory and the Applied Cooperation Team.

Bridging the fields of cognitive science, behavioral economics, and social psychology, David’s research combines behavioral experiments run online and in the field with mathematical and computational models to understand people’s attitudes, beliefs, and choices. His work uses a cognitive science perspective grounded in the tension between more intuitive versus deliberative modes of decision-making. He focuses on illuminating why people believe and share misinformation and “fake news,” understanding political psychology and polarization, and promoting human cooperation. David received his B.A. in Computational Biology from Cornell University in 2004 and his Ph.D. in Systems Biology from Harvard University in 2009, was a post-doctoral researcher in Harvard University’s Department of Psychology from 2009 to 2013, and was an Assistant and then Associate Professor (with tenure) of Psychology, Economics, and Management at Yale University prior to joining the faculty at MIT. His work has been published in peer-reviewed journals such Nature, Science, Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, the American Economic Review, Psychological Science, Management Science, New England Journal of Medicine, and the American Journal of Political Science, and has received widespread attention from print, radio, TV and social media outlets. He has also written popular press articles for outlets including the New York Times, Wired, New Scientist, and the Psychological Observer. He was named to Wired magazine’s Smart List 2012 of “50 people who will change the world,” chosen as a 2012 Pop!Tech Science Fellow, and awarded the 2015 Arthur Greer Memorial Prize for Outstanding Scholarly Research, fact-checking researcher of the year in 2017 by the Poyner Institute’s International Fact-Checking Network, and the 2020 FABBS Early Career Impact Award from the Society for Judgment and Decision Making. Papers he has coauthored have been awarded Best Paper of the Year in Experimental Economics, Social Cognition, and Political Methodology.


Papers related to misinformation from
David Rand and Gordon Pennycook’s research team

1. Evaluating interventions to fight misinformation

General introduction: “The Right Way to Fight Fake News” NYTimes op ed 2020 [Tweet thread]

Accuracy nudges / Inoculation

  • Understanding and reducing the spread of misinformation online [including field experiment increasing quality of news actually shared on Twitter] Working paper [Tweet thread]

  • Fighting COVID-19 misinformation on social media: Experimental evidence for a scalable accuracy nudge intervention Psychological Science 2020 [Tweet thread]



Source Information

2.  Role of reasoning in detecting versus falling for misinformation

General introduction: “Why do people fall for fake news?” NYTimes op ed 2019

Manipulation-based papers:

Correlation-based papers:

3.  Illusory truth and the effect of repetition

4.  Other papers related to misinformation

Politically motivated reasoning (or lack thereof)

Thinking clearly about causal inferences of politically motivated reasoning: Why paradigmatic study designs often prevent causal inference Current Opinion in Behavioral Science 2020 [Tweet thread]


Featured publications