MIT Sloan professor was named to the 2023 Thinkers50 Radar Class, a list published annually that honors 30 people who are expected to make an impact in the coming year.
Rand is a professor of management science and brain and cognitive sciences, as well as the director of the Applied Cooperation Team, a group of researchers who apply social science lessons to public goods.
Among other things, his research focuses on why people believe and share misinformation, and how to reduce its spread. One of his recent research papers looks at exposure to misinformation from political elites on Twitter.
In 2021, Rand was named a top business school professor under 40 years old.
Insights from his research include the following:
The value of an “accuracy nudge.” Shifting a person’s attention to accuracy can help reduce misinformation online, Rand and his co-researchers found. Reminding users to pay attention to whether information is accurate can improve the quality of information they share online, such as COVID-19-related content. “This is a scalable intervention that social media platforms could easily implement,” Rand said.
How to fight pro-Russia misinformation in Ukraine. Pro-Russia disinformation and propaganda flowed into Ukraine ahead of the 2022 Russian invasion. A paper by Rand and his co-authors found that Ukrainians with more analytical reasoning skills tended to be better insulated against Russian propaganda, even if they generally had pro-Russia sympathies.
How digital literacy affects the spread of false information on social media. Data literacy helps people identify misinformation, but it doesn’t always stop them from sharing it. While digital literacy was associated with a better ability to distinguish true versus false information, this did not appear to translate into sharing better-quality information. This is because people may not be thinking about accuracy when they share information — another argument for an accuracy nudge.