Professor Ulrike Hahn wins prize for research into political accuracy and social media

Professor Hahn won the Computational Modeling Prize in Applied Cognition for a paper which examined how the accuracy of political information is affected as it is shared through social media networks.

Professor Ulrike Hahn from Birkbeck’s Department of Psychological Sciences has won the Computational Modeling Prize in Applied Cognition from the Cognitive Science Society for a paper titled How Communication Can Make Voters Choose Less Well.

The paper examines how the accuracy of political information is affected as it is shared through social media networks, and how this may result in people voting against their own interests where accuracy is decreased.

Professor Hahn explains: “Recent political surprises in Western democracies have recharged debate about the extent to which voters might vote against their own self-interest as well as the possible reasons why they might do so. One possible strand of explanation involves voter ignorance, yet political scientists are quick to point out that there is evidence to suggest that voters have always seemed comparatively ignorant of factual details involved in political campaigns, seemingly ruling out such explanation.

“However, voting involves the aggregation of individual’s votes, and the quality of the collective outcome may change not just in response to changes in individual’s competence, but also to changes in the degree of correlation between voters, and the extent to which they base their votes on private or shared, public knowledge.”

The award was presented at the 40th annual meeting of the Cognitive Science Society.

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