Areas of Expertise (8)
Climate Change Belief
Perception of Reality
Trust in Politics
Professor Stephan Lewandowsky is based in the School of Psychological Science where his research explores people’s responses to misinformation, propaganda and fake news. He explores how people update their memories if the information they believe then turns out to be false. This has led him to examine the persistence of misinformation and the spread of fake news in society, including conspiracy theories. He has recently been researching trust in politicians and policy, assessing the tweets of President Trump as a political diversionary tactic and the psychology of the internet and its implications for human cognition. Professor Lewandowsky is particularly interested in the variables that determine whether or not people accept scientific evidence – relating to, for example, vaccinations or to climate science.
Of particular note is his work examining the potential conflict between human cognition and the physics of global climate change, which has led him into new areas of research in climate science and climate modelling. As a result of his work in climate science he was appointed Visiting Scientist at the CSIRO Oceans and Atmosphere laboratory in Tasmania. Professor Lewandowsky has published more than 220 scholarly articles, chapters, and books, including numerous papers on how people respond to corrections of misinformation and what variables determine people’s acceptance of scientific findings. He is an award-winning teacher and was Associate Editor of the Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition. He also frequently appears in the media and has contributed nearly 100 opinion pieces.
University of Toronto: Ph.D. 1985
University of Toronto: M.A. 1981
Washington College: B.A. 1980
Media Appearances (5)
QAnon Conspiracy Theorist Agent Margaritaville on the Run From Cops
Brummell picked a good time to begin recruiting as there has been an explosion in conspiracy believers during the pandemic. “People feel that they’ve lost control and the moment that happens some people turn to conspiracy theories,” Stephen Lewandowsky, the chair of cognitive psychology at the University of Bristol, told VICE previously. “It provides psychological comfort to think that there’s this cabal of bad people out there who are responsible for this.”
People who believe COVID-19 conspiracies have these 7 tendencies
Fast Company online
The conspiracy theory video “Plandemic” recently went viral. Despite being taken down by YouTube and Facebook, it continues to get uploaded and viewed millions of times. The video is an interview with conspiracy theorist Judy Mikovits, a disgraced former virology researcher who believes the COVID-19 pandemic is based on a vast deception, with the purpose of profiting from selling vaccinations.
How do you stop the spread of misinformation?
Stephan Lewandowsky, a cognitive scientist at the University of Bristol, speaks with The World's Marco Werman about how societies can combat misinformation — particularly around the coronavirus and climate change.
Study: Bots Are Fueling Online Climate Science Denialism
Rolling Stone online
“More often than not, they turn out to have all the fingerprints of bots,” Stephan Lewandowsky, an academic at the University of Bristol, told The Guardian of climate-related messaging on Twitter. “The more denialist trolls are out there, the more likely people will think that there is a diversity of opinion and hence will weaken their support for climate science.”
YouTube Has Been 'Actively Promoting' Videos Spreading Climate Denialism, According to New Report
Stephan Lewandowsky, chair of the cognitive psychology department at the University of Bristol, who studies climate misinformation, says the question isn’t whether YouTube could deal with climate denialism on its platform, but whether there the company’s leadership have the political will to do so when there is not yet “political consensus” in all countries around climate change.
Research priorities for the COVID‐19 pandemic and beyond: A call to action for psychological scienceBritish Journal of Psychology
2020 The severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus‐2 (SARS‐CoV‐2) that has caused the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID‐19) pandemic represents the greatest international biopsychosocial emergency the world has faced for a century, and psychological science has an integral role to offer in helping societies recover.
What science can do for democracy: a complexity science approachHumanities and Social Sciences Communications
2020 Political scientists have conventionally assumed that achieving democracy is a one-way ratchet. Only very recently has the question of “democratic backsliding” attracted any research attention. We argue that democratic instability is best understood with tools from complexity science.
Using the COVID-19 economic crisis to frame climate change as a secondary issue reduces mitigation supportJournal of Environmental Psychology
2020 The COVID-19 pandemic has understandably dominated public discourse, crowding out other important issues such as climate change. Currently, if climate change enters the arena of public debate, it primarily does so in direct relation to the pandemic.
Ten considerations for effectively managing the COVID-19 transitionNature Human Behaviour
2020 Governments around the world have implemented measures to manage the transmission of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). While the majority of these measures are proving effective, they have a high social and economic cost, and response strategies are being adjusted.
Is bad news on TV tickers good news? The effects of voiceover and visual elements in video on viewers’ assessmentPLoS One
2020 In our experiment, we tested how exposure to a mock televised news segment, with a systematically manipulated emotional valence of voiceover, images and TV tickers (in the updating format) impacts viewers’ perception. Subjects (N = 603) watched specially prepared professional video material which portrayed the story of a candidate for local mayor. Following exposure to the video, subjects assessed the politician in terms of competence, sociability, and morality.