Cognitive Science Lunchtime Talk - Kerem Oktar & Travis Frederick

Feb 17, 2022, 12:00 pm1:00 pm
Peretsman Scully Hall - Room 101
Event Description


Travis Frederick  Rewriting History: The effects of selective commemoration on collective memory in Russia 

Authoritarian governments around the world are rewriting history for political ends. This phenomenon is particularly striking in Russia where the collective memory of the population has been declared a matter of national security. Using domestic memory laws and selective endorsement, the government of Russia has restricted the bounds of acceptable commemoration in order to establish a shared perception of the past. However, there is an extremely active debate as to how effective, or ineffective, these commemorative efforts are in shaping the collective memory of the population. Using the President’s annual Victory Day speech as a naturally occurring treatment, we map the mnemonic landscape, test for mnemonic convergence among those who attend to government commemorations, and provide evidence for linkages between perceptions of the past and political opinions toward current events.  


Kerem Oktar  Mechanisms of Belief Persistence in the Face of Societal Disagreement 

People have a remarkable ability to remain steadfast in their beliefs in the face of large-scale disagreement. This has important consequences (e.g., societal polarization), yet its psychological underpinnings are poorly understood. In this talk, I will present the results of two experiments that answer some foundational questions regarding belief persistence, from its prevalence to variability. The main finding is that participants are aware of societal disagreement about controversial issues, yet overwhelmingly (~85%) do not question their views if asked to reflect on this disagreement. I will discuss potential mechanisms enabling this persistence.