Technology and Democracy

Understanding the influence of online technologies on political behaviour and decision-making

October 27, 2020

Social media, a threat to democracy?

Lewandowsky, S., Smillie, L., Garcia, D., Hertwig, R., Weatherall, J., Egidy, S., Robertson, R.E., O’connor, C., Kozyreva, A., Lorenz-Spreen, P., Blaschke, Y. & Leiser, M. (2020). Technology and Democracy: Understanding the influence of online technologies on political behaviour and decision-making. Publications Office of the European Union. doi:10.2760/709177

An international team of experts – including researchers from the Center for Adaptive Rationality – has investigated the influence of social media on our political behavior. In the report “Technology and Democracy: Understanding the influence of online technologies on political behaviour and decision-making,” published by the Joint Research Centre (JRC) of the European Commission, the research team identifies challenges that arise when people interact politically on online platforms like Facebook, Youtube or Twitter that are not subject to much public oversight or democratic governance. The results should help citizens, civil society and policymakers to make sense of the impact the online world is having on our political decisions, and identify actions to safeguard a participatory, democratic European future.

This report is the second output from the JRC’s Enlightenment 2.0 multi-annual research programme. Advances in behavioral, decision and social sciences show that we are not purely rational beings: Enlightenment 2.0 seeks to understand the other drivers that influence political decision-making.

“I am convinced that we can empower people to make good decisions in an online world.” – Ralph Hertwig, Lead author and Director of the Center for Adaptive Rationality.

Ralph Hertwig on the EU Joint Research Centre report “Technology and Democracy”

“I am convinced that we can empower people to make good decisions in an online world.” – Ralph Hertwig, Lead author and Director of the Center for Adaptive Rationality.
“We are providing an evidence based overview of the challenges people encounter in online environments.” – Anastasia Kozyreva, Contributing author and Postdoctoral Fellow at the Center for Adaptive Rationality at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development.

Anastasia Kozyreva on the EU Joint Research Centre report “Technology and Democracy”

“We are providing an evidence based overview of the challenges people encounter in online environments.” – Anastasia Kozyreva, Contributing author and Postdoctoral Fellow at the Center for Adaptive Rationality at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development.
“It is important for a democracy to think about how people interact and form their opinions in an online world.” – Philipp Lorenz-Spreen, Contributing author and Postdoctoral Fellow at the Center for Adaptive Rationality.

Philipp Lorenz-Spreen on the EU Joint Research Centre report “Technology and Democracy”

“It is important for a democracy to think about how people interact and form their opinions in an online world.” – Philipp Lorenz-Spreen, Contributing author and Postdoctoral Fellow at the Center for Adaptive Rationality.
“Technology, social media and online discourse can have a toxic effect on democracy.” – Stephan Lewandowsky, Coordinating lead author and Professor of Cognitive Science at the University of Bristol.

Stephan Lewandowsky on the EU Joint Research Centre report “Technology and Democracy”

“Technology, social media and online discourse can have a toxic effect on democracy.” – Stephan Lewandowsky, Coordinating lead author and Professor of Cognitive Science at the University of Bristol.
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