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The Problem of European Misperceptions in Politics, Health, and Science:Causes, Consequences, and the Search for Solutions

Total Cost €


EC-Contrib. €






Project "DEBUNKER" data sheet

The following table provides information about the project.


Organization address
city: EXETER
postcode: EX4 4QJ

contact info
title: n.a.
name: n.a.
surname: n.a.
function: n.a.
email: n.a.
telephone: n.a.
fax: n.a.

 Coordinator Country United Kingdom [UK]
 Total cost 1˙931˙730 €
 EC max contribution 1˙931˙730 € (100%)
 Programme 1. H2020-EU.1.1. (EXCELLENT SCIENCE - European Research Council (ERC))
 Code Call ERC-2015-CoG
 Funding Scheme ERC-COG
 Starting year 2016
 Duration (year-month-day) from 2016-09-01   to  2021-08-31


Take a look of project's partnership.

# participants  country  role  EC contrib. [€] 
1    THE UNIVERSITY OF EXETER UK (EXETER) coordinator 1˙931˙730.00


 Project objective

While some people may simply lack relevant factual knowledge, others may actively hold incorrect beliefs. These factual beliefs that are not supported by clear evidence and expert opinion are what scholars call misperceptions (Nyhan and Reifler 2010). This project is principally about misperceptions—the “facts” that people believe that simply are not true. What misperceptions do Europeans hold on issues like immigration, vaccines, and climate change? Who holds these misperceptions? What demographic and attitudinal variables are correlated with holding misperceptions? And ultimately, what can be done to help reduce misperceptions?

Misperceptions are an important topic for study because they distort public preferences and outcomes. This research program investigating misperceptions is currently at the state of the art in political science. To date, only a handful of published studies by political scientists have examined how corrective information changes underlying factual beliefs. The results of these studies are uniformly troubling—among those vulnerable to holding a given misperception, corrective efforts often make misperceptions worse or decrease the likelihood to engage in desired behaviors.

This ambitious project has three primary objectives. First, the project will assess levels of misperceptions in Europe on three specific issues (immigration, vaccines, and climate change) that represent three different substantive domains of knowledge (politics, health, and science). Second, the project will examine a variety of approaches and techniques for combatting misperceptions and generating effective corrections. Third, the project will take what is learned from the first two stages and transmit the findings back to relevant academic and policy-maker audiences in order to aid policy design and communication efforts on important policy issues.


year authors and title journal last update
List of publications.
2018 Benjamin A. Lyons, Ariel Hasell, Natalie Jomini Stroud
Enduring Extremes? Polar Vortex, Drought, and Climate Change Beliefs
published pages: 876-894, ISSN: 1752-4032, DOI: 10.1080/17524032.2018.1520735
Environmental Communication 12/7 2019-10-29
2019 Benjamin A. Lyons
Discussion Network Activation: An Expanded Approach to Selective Exposure
published pages: 32, ISSN: 2183-2439, DOI: 10.17645/mac.v7i3.2112
Media and Communication 7/3 2019-10-29
2018 Benjamin A. Lyons, Ariel Hasell, Meghnaa Tallapragada, Kathleen Hall Jamieson
Conversion messages and attitude change: Strong arguments, not costly signals
published pages: 320-338, ISSN: 0963-6625, DOI: 10.1177/0963662518821017
Public Understanding of Science 28/3 2019-10-29
2018 Benjamin Lyons
Reducing Group Alignment in Factual Disputes? The Limited Effects of Social Identity Interventions
published pages: 789-807, ISSN: 1075-5470, DOI: 10.1177/1075547018804826
Science Communication 40/6 2019-10-29
2019 Benjamin A. Lyons, Heather Akin, Natalie Jomini Stroud
Proximity (Mis)perception: Public Awareness of Nuclear, Refinery, and Fracking Sites
published pages: , ISSN: 0272-4332, DOI: 10.1111/risa.13387
Risk Analysis 2019-10-29
2019 Vanessa P. Scott, Douglas J. Opel, Jason Reifler, Sharon Rikin, Kalpana Pethe, Angela Barrett, Melissa S. Stockwell
Office-Based Educational Handout for Influenza Vaccination: A Randomized Controlled Trial
published pages: e20182580, ISSN: 0031-4005, DOI: 10.1542/peds.2018-2580
Pediatrics 144/2 2019-10-29
2017 D.J. Flynn, Brendan Nyhan, Jason Reifler
The Nature and Origins of Misperceptions: Understanding False and Unsupported Beliefs About Politics
published pages: 127-150, ISSN: 0162-895X, DOI: 10.1111/pops.12394
Political Psychology 38 2019-06-18
2017 Benjamin A. Lyons
When Readers Believe Journalists: Effects of Adjudication in Varied Dispute Contexts
published pages: , ISSN: 0954-2892, DOI: 10.1093/ijpor/edx013
International Journal of Public Opinion Research 2019-06-18
2019 Brendan Nyhan, Ethan Porter, Jason Reifler, Thomas J. Wood
Taking Fact-Checks Literally But Not Seriously? The Effects of Journalistic Fact-Checking on Factual Beliefs and Candidate Favorability
published pages: , ISSN: 0190-9320, DOI: 10.1007/s11109-019-09528-x
Political Behavior 2019-06-06
2018 Brendan Nyhan, Jason Reifler
The roles of information deficits and identity threat in the prevalence of misperceptions
published pages: 222-244, ISSN: 1745-7289, DOI: 10.1080/17457289.2018.1465061
Journal of Elections, Public Opinion and Parties 29/2 2019-06-06
2018 Benjamin Lyons, Vittorio Merola, Jason Reifler
Not Just Asking Questions: Effects of Implicit and Explicit Conspiracy Information About Vaccines and Genetic Modification
published pages: 1-10, ISSN: 1041-0236, DOI: 10.1080/10410236.2018.1530526
Health Communication 2019-06-06

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