Library Element Report

Technology and Democracy: understanding the influence of online technologies on political behaviour and decision-making

Uploaded by RRI Tools on 02 November 2020

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. and Leiser, M., Technology and Democracy: Understanding the influence of online technologies on political behaviour and decision-making, EUR 30422 EN, Publications Office of the European Union

Drawing from many disciplines, the report adopts a behavioural psychology perspective to argue that “social media changes people’s political behaviour”. Four pressure points are identified and analysed in detail: the attention economy; choice architectures; algorithmic content curation; and mis/disinformation. Policy implications are outlined in detail.

Table of contents


Executive summary

Chapter 1: Introduction 

  • Methodology
  • Understanding the basics: Cognition in context 
  • Levels of context: The macro context 
  • Levels of context: The micro context

Chapter 2: Why do we behave differently online? 

  • The distinct cognitive attributes of the web
  • Differences in Structure and Functionality
  • Differences in Perception and Behaviour

Chapter 3: The attention economy 

  • Specific characteristics
  • How this affects our behaviour

Chapter 4: Choice architectures 

  • Specific characteristics
  • How this affects our behaviour 

Chapter 5: Algorithmic content curation

  • Specific characteristics: The dark side of algorithms

Chapter 6: Misinformation and disinformation

  • Specific characteristics: What is“post-truth”?
  • How this affects our behaviour: Receptivity to misleading information

Chapter 7: Taking democracy online

  • Specific characteristics.
  • How this affects our behaviour

Chapter 8: What does this mean for policy?

  • Delineating policy parameters
  • Managing misinformation and tackling disinformation 
  • Levelling the asymmetric landscape
  • Safeguarding the guardians
  • Safeguarding electoral processes
  • Safeguarding personalisation and customisation
  • Facilitating public deliberation 
  • Enabling deeper policy reflections: Strategic foresight

Chapter 9: Future research agenda

  • A strategic foresight study of the European information space in 2035
  • Scenario 1: Struggle for information supremacy 
  • Scenario 2: Resilient disorder
  • Scenario 3: Global cutting edge
  • Scenario 4: Harmonic divergence







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