Prof. David Gertler Rand

Erwin H Schell Associate Professor of Management Science

Primary DLC

MIT Sloan School of Management

MIT Room: E62-539

Assistant

Allison McDonough
almcd@mit.edu

Areas of Interest and Expertise

Management Science
Marketing

Research Summary

Professor Rand's work has been published in peer-reviewed journals such as Nature, Science, Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, the American Economic Review, Psychological Science, and Management Science, and has received widespread attention from print, radio, TV and social media outlets. He has also written popular press articles for outlets including the New York Times, Wired, New Scientist, and the Psychological Observer. He was named to Wired magazine’s Smart List 2012 of “50 people who will change the world,” chosen as a 2012 Pop!Tech Science Fellow, received the 2015 Arthur Greer Memorial Prize for Outstanding Scholarly Research, and was selected as fact-checking researcher of the year in 2017 by the Poyner Institute’s International Fact-Checking Network. Papers he has coauthored have been awarded Best Paper of the Year in Experimental Economics, Social Cognition, and Political Methodology.

Recent Work

  • Video

    9.22.20-Nano-Sense-Day-2--POPULATIONS

    September 22, 2020Conference Video Duration: 74:15

    A Framework for Biomarkers of COVID-19 Based on Neuromotor Coordination in Speech
    Thomas F. Quatieri
    Senior Staff, Human Health and Performance Systems Group, Lincoln Laboratory
    Senseable Cities
    Carlo Ratti
    Director, MIT Senseable City Lab
    Fighting COVID-19 Misinformation on Social Media
    David Rand
    Erwin H. Schell Associate Professor of Management Science, MIT Sloan School of Management
     

    David Rand - 2019 RD Conference

    November 20, 2019Conference Video Duration: 24:30

    Fake news: Why we fall for it and what to do about it

    Why do people believe and share misinformation, including entirely fabricated news headlines (“fake news”) and biased or misleading coverage of actual events ("hyper-partisan" content)? The dominant narrative in the media and among academics is that we believe misinformation because we want to – that is, we engage in motivated reasoning, using our cognitive capacities to convince ourselves of the truth of statements that align with our political ideology rather than to undercover the truth. In a series of survey experiments using American participants, my colleagues and I challenge this account. We consistently find that engaging in more reasoning makes one better able to identify false or biased headlines - even for headlines that align with individuals’ political ideology. These findings suggest that susceptibility to misinformation is driven more by mental laziness and lack of reasoning than it is by partisan bias hijacking the reasoning process. We then build on this observation to examine interventions to fight the spread of misinformation. We find - given this smaller-than-believed role of partisan bias - that crowdsourcing can actually be a quite effective approach for identifying misleading news outlets and news content. We also demonstrate the power of making the concept of accuracy top-of-mind, thereby increasing the likelihood that people think about the accuracy of headlines before they decide whether to share them online. Our results suggest that reasoning is not held hostage by partisan bias, but that instead our participants do have the ability to tell fake or inaccurate from real - if they bother to pay attention. Our findings also suggest simple, cost-effective behavioral interventions to fight the spread of misinformation.

    2019 MIT Research and Development Conference