Kairos Research has been awarded a contract by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to develop new methods for detecting group-level cognitive dissonance. Cognitive dissonance is a psychological phenomenon wherein a person or community holds two or more beliefs that are in conflict. Cognitive dissonance may be especially pronounced during periods of rapid societal change, in which newly emerging cultural attitudes conflict with prior beliefs and practices.
Whereas previous research has focused on understanding dissonance at the individual level, the Kairos-led team will attempt to create new approaches for studying cognitive dissonance within groups. The project, titled Dissonance as a Collective and Cultural Process (DISCO PRO), aims to expand upon existing theoretical models of individual dissonance by adding group identity and cultural beliefs as important model factors. Furthermore, DISCO PRO seeks to identify linguistic markers for detecting cognitive dissonance in online communications (e.g., social media postings).
The DISCO PRO project will be led by Dr. Amy Summerville, a Kairos Senior Research Scientist and expert on the interplay between emotion and decision making, including regret, counterfactual thinking, and dissonance. “Social cognitive science has increasingly realized that group members can have emotional experiences based on events relevant to the group, even when these events don’t directly impact those individuals,” noted Dr. Summerville. “DISCO PRO is the first line of research to extend this work to experiences of cognitive dissonance, which has far-reaching implications for understanding group-level decisions and actions.”