In 10 seconds? Scientists from the Santa Fe Institute have developed a cognitive network model to study how likely an individual is to change their views on contentious topics. What they found was that it was possible to shift the strength of beliefs.

Why is it hot news? We are living in a world where people often hold entrenched opinions about scientific issues that can, for example, affect public health. Researchers were curious to further investigate what happens if 'doubters' are presented with factual, evidence-based information. Well, from a scientific point of view, for the first time the new model they used takes two important factors into account together. These are moral beliefs and belonging to a social group. With these introduced into the model, the team was looking at how dissonance between the two was a good indicator of someone changing their beliefs on such controversial issues as vaccines and genetically modified food.

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