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Lisa Fazio Assistant Professor of Psychology and Human Development

Expert on how people process true and false information, and how to mitigate the effects of reading and sharing false information.

Biography

Lisa Fazio's research is focused on how the brain learns new information, and why our minds are susceptible to misinformation and lies. Her research answers questions such as: •How does the brain process information - both true and false? •How can we prevent the sharing of false information online? •How do people learn simple facts and more complex knowledge such as mathematical procedures? •What can teachers and students do to improve learning within and outside the classroom? •How do students learn incorrect information and how can those errors be corrected? Her research informs basic theories about learning and memory, while also having clear applications for practitioners, such as journalists and teachers.

Media Appearances

Biden’s plan to fight online harassment could set up new confrontation with tech companies, experts say

CNBC November 10, 2020
“I think this particular task force plan aims to address a real need,” said Lisa Fazio, a Vanderbilt University professor of psychology and human development who studies the effects of misinformation. “We know these platforms are consistently the source of online harassment and threats to women, and there’s a connection to extremist consequences.”

Election results misinformation, fraud claims threaten to distort Americans' views of the democratic process

USA Today November 06, 2020
“We often remember the content of information while forgetting the source or who said it,” said Lisa Fazio, assistant professor of psychology and human development at Vanderbilt University, who has studied the effects of misinformation. “Over time, we might remember the allegations of voter fraud but forget that they came from an unreliable source.”

Twitter did a better job than Facebook at reining in Trump's false election posts, misinformation experts say

Business Insider November 05, 2020
"I've been fairly impressed with Twitter's follow-through," said Lisa Fazio, assistant professor of psychology and human development at Vanderbilt University. She said that although Facebook's information labels tend to be more detailed than Twitter's, the fact it places no sharing restrictions means "false information can still quickly spread on the platform."

Here are all the steps social media made to combat misinformation. Will it be enough?

The Guardian October 30, 2020
The measures range from changing algorithmic recommendations to limiting users’ abilities to share falsehoods. But some experts are doubtful the changes, enacted as hundreds of thousands of Americans have already cast votes, are sufficient. Others have criticized the lack of transparency into how these changes are applied. “I am concerned right now the future of our democracy is in the hands of very few people at these tech companies,” said Lisa Fazio, a professor at Vanderbilt University who studies the spread of misinformation.

Repetition plays major role in our media consumption | Opinion

The Tennessean March 27, 2020
Repetition does not change the actual truth of a statement, but it does create an illusion of truth in our minds.

Out-of-context photos are a powerful low-tech form of misinformation

PBS NewsHour February 14, 2020
When you think of visual misinformation, maybe you think of deepfakes – videos that appear real but have actually been created using powerful video editing algorithms. But the majority of visual misinformation that people are exposed to involves much simpler forms of deception. One common and decidedly low-tech technique involves recycling (posting) legitimate old photographs and videos and presenting them as evidence of recent events.

Can old-fashioned journalism combat fake news?

Christian Science Monitor February 07, 2019
Whether created by spammers, grifters, conspiracy theorists, or propagandists, sites that conceal or play down their ownership and financing, blend news with advertising, and routinely publish misinformation are widespread on the internet. And it’s not always easy to distinguish these sites from the ones operated by those acting in good faith. “There are so many sites now that it’s hard to know which ones are credible and aren’t credible,” says Lisa Fazio, a psychologist at Vanderbilt University in Nashville who studies how people process information. “It takes a lot of effort and cognitive brainpower to really think through our prior knowledge on a topic, so we tend not to do that.”

Why you’re bad at fact-checking those April Fools’ Day pranks

The Washington Post April 01, 2018
Perspective: Our brains let false information through all the time, even when we know better.

Want to make a lie seem true? Say it again and again and again.

Wired February 11, 2017
The effect works because when people attempt to assess truth they rely on two things: whether the information jibes with their understanding, and whether it feels familiar. The first condition is logical: People compare new information with what they already know to be true and consider the credibility of both sources. But researchers have found that familiarity can trump rationality—so much so that hearing over and over again that a certain fact is wrong can have a paradoxical effect. It's so familiar that it starts to feel right. "When you see the fact for the second time it's much easer to process—you read it more quickly, you understand it more fluently," says Vanderbilt University psychologist Lisa Fazio. "Our brain interprets that fluency as a signal for something being true"—Whether it's true or not. In other words, rationality can be hard. It takes work. Your busy brain is often more comfortable running on feeling.

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