David G. Rand

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David G. Rand

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Affiliated MIT Sloan Group

MIT Department

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David Rand is the Erwin H. Schell Professor and Professor of Management Science and Brain and Cognitive Sciences at MIT, the director of the Applied Cooperation Team, and an affiliate of the MIT Institute of Data, Systems, and Society, and the Initiative on the Digital Economy.

Bridging the fields of cognitive science, behavioral economics, and social psychology, David’s research combines behavioral experiments run online and in the field with mathematical and computational models to understand people’s attitudes, beliefs, and choices. His work uses a cognitive science perspective grounded in the tension between more intuitive versus deliberative modes of decision-making. He focuses on illuminating why people believe and share misinformation and “fake news,” understanding political psychology and polarization, and promoting human cooperation. David received his BA in computational biology from Cornell University in 2004 and his PhD in systems biology from Harvard University in 2009, was a post-doctoral researcher in Harvard University’s Department of Psychology from 2009 to 2013, and was an Assistant and then Associate Professor (with tenure) of Psychology, Economics, and Management at Yale University prior to joining the faculty at MIT.

David's work has been published in peer-reviewed journals such Nature, Science, Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, the American Economic Review, Psychological Science, Management Science, New England Journal of Medicine, and the American Journal of Political 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, and awarded the 2015 Arthur Greer Memorial Prize for Outstanding Scholarly Research, fact-checking researcher of the year in 2017 by the Poyner Institute’s International Fact-Checking Network, and the 2020 FABBS Early Career Impact Award from the Society for Judgment and Decision Making. Papers he has coauthored have been awarded Best Paper of the Year in Experimental Economics, Social Cognition, and Political Methodology.

Honors

David Rand wins two awards

Publications

"​Beliefs About COVID-19 in Canada, the United Kingdom, and the United States: A Novel Test of Political Polarization and Motivated Reasoning."

Pennycook, Gordon, Jonathon McPhetres, Bence Bago, and David G. Rand. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin Vol. 48, No. 5 (2022): 750-765. Download Paper.

"The Role of Inequity Aversion in Microloan Defaults."

Jordan, Matthew R., William T. Dickens, Oliver P. Hauser, and David G. Rand. Behavioural Public Policy Vol. 6, No. 2 (2022): 302-324. Download Paper.

"​Rethinking the Link Between Cognitive Sophistication and Politically Motivated Reasoning."

​Tappin, Ben M., Gordon Pennycook, and David G. Rand. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General Vol. 150, No. 6 (2022): 1095-1114. Download Paper.

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Recent Insights

Press

Research highlights how Twitter is working to reduce misinformation

Stopping the spread of misinformation while maintaining free speech is a major challenge for social media companies. The Birdwatch program allows users to provide additional context for tweets.

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Press

Ukrainians who engage in more analytic thinking are less susceptible to Russia’s disinformation campaign

A new research paper by Prof. David Rand, and colleagues found that Ukrainians who engaged in more analytic thinking were less likely to believe pro-Kremlin disinformation.

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  • Oct 19-Dec 7, 2022
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