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Jagiellonian University (JU)
Philosophy, Institute of Psychology

 Contact details
Contact personprof. Małgorzata Kossowska
StreetIngardena 6 
Address 30-060 - Krakow (Poland) 
 Organisation details
Employees (in Depart.)51-250 
Organisation TypeResearch Organisation 
 Research Focus

 Fields of activities:
» Psychology

 Brief description of your activity focus
the political beliefs, prejudice, stereotyping, social inequality in cultural context

 Details about Expertise / Competences / Technologies
I am a social psychologist with a strong cognitive background, working on social cognition and, more specifically, on
motivated cognition. For many years I have been studying processes (motivational, cognition, and neurocognitive and
affective) underlying ideological beliefs formation, political decision making, and voting behavior. Recently, as a
member of the interdisciplinary group, I am working on an identity perspective on knowledge resistance, i.e., the
tendency not to accept available knowledge. It is well known that political polarisation is on the rise almost
everywhere around the globe, and values strongly influence not only peoples political behavior but also their
perceptions about facts. The question arises, however, how the influence of partisanship and other social identities on
the uptake of the new information can be reduced. Searching for the answer to this question is the aim of my work in
this project. Also recently, I have been working on values (openness and self-enhancement) as predictors of cultural
and cultural beliefs (papers are available in PsyArXiv). In my research, I usually integrate evidence from different
areas of social and cognitive psychology, psychophysiology, and neuroscience. This evidence is based on a wide variety
of methodologies, such as behavioral, psychophysiological, and cognitive techniques.

I have authored over 80 papers published in Polish and international journals (np. Political Psychology, Personality &
Individual Differences, Journal of Personality, International Journal of Psychology, European Journal of Social
Psychology, British Journal of Psychology, Cognition & Emotion, Motivation & Emotion, Brain & Behavioral Sciences,
Advances in Experimental Social Psychology, European Review of Social Psychology). I am the author and co-author of
seven books about social cognition, closed-mindedness, stereotyping, prejudice and tolerance. I am also an associated
editor of European Journal of Social Psychology and Journal of Social and Political Psychology, and a member of the
editorial board of Behavioral Sciences of Terrorism and Political Aggression. Currently I am an associate editor of
European Review of Social Psychology.
 Research Activities

 EU Framework Programme related activities:

 Project participation
Project #1
Project TypeOther (International)
Project TitleKnowledge Resistance: Causes, Consequences and Cures founded by RIKSBANKENS JUBILEUMSFOND (M18-0310:1; 2019-2024)
Specific ThemeThe motivational roots of knowledge resistance
Project websitehttps://su.se/knowledgeresistance/
CoordinatorÅsa Wikforss
Project #2
Project TypeNational
Project TitleMotivational, affective, and cognitive sources of knowledge formation process: Implications for intrapersonal, interpersonal and intergroup phenomena
Specific Themeadvanced model for the processes underlying knowledge formation in social domain
Project websitehttp://cscs.edu.pl/motivational-affective-and-cognitive-sources-of-knowledge-formation-process/

 International and national projects beyond EU Framework Programme
I participate in two JRC EC projects:

Understanding our political nature: how to put knowledge and reason at the heart of policymaking. Enlightenment 2.0,
Joint Research Center, European Commission (2017-2019). Project website:

Science on values. Enlightenment 2.0, Joint Research Center, European Commission (2019-2021). Project website:

Other international project:

’Knowledge Resistance: Causes, Consequences, and Cures is a multidiciplinary research program funded by the
independent foundation Riksbankens Jubileumsfond (RJ).

The main objective of this interdisciplinary program is to investigate the nature and causes of knowledge resistance. We
live in a world where we have increasingly sophisticated ways of acquiring and communicating knowledge, but at the same
time, efforts to spread this knowledge often encounter resistance. Since knowledge has an important instrumental value,
to the individual and to the society as a whole, knowledge resistance has consequences. For example, The World Health
Organization lists skepticism about vaccines as one of the current top ten threats to world health, and climate skepticism
has led important actors to resist the types of changes required to prevent irreversible climate catastrophes. Similarly,
resistance to policy relevant knowledge, such as about crime or immigration, poses challenges for a democratic society.

Knowledge resistance is the failure to accept available knowledge. In the sense employed by the program, knowledge
resistance is not an attitude towards knowledge that people consciously adopt. Rather, it is a more or less systematic
failure of our cognitive systems to respond with proper sensitivity to evidence available to us (i.e. to information provided
by our senses, other people, the media, etc.). Thus, a knowledge resistant belief forming process is one that does not
produce, retain, or change belief in a rational way in reaction to the available evidence. Knowledge resistance is therefore
a type of irrationality, more precisely a type of what philosophers call theoretical rationality (to be distinguished from
practical irrationality, the irrationality of decision making). Cognitive systems can be more or less knowledge resistant, and
particular parts of cognitive systems might be so only under specific circumstances.

A central hypothesis is that knowledge resistance is the result of a complex interaction between emotions, cognition, social
interaction and the flow of information. This means that a proper investigation of the phenomenon requires a genuinely
interdisciplinary approach. Research on the topic so far has been scattered across disciplines, and there has been no
attempt to provide a coherent, unified framework within which to properly investigate this phenomenon. For the first
time, this program brings together groups of researchers from philosophy, psychology, political science and media research,
using a wide range of empirical and analytical methods to systematically investigate knowledge resistance, its nature,
causes and consequences.

The program is organized around four inter-connected work packages:

I) Foundational questions concerning the nature of knowledge resistance. This work package examines the specific types of
irrationality involved in knowledge resistant belief formation, and how even normally well-functioning cognitive systems
are exploitable to produce knowledge resistance. Principal investigator is Kathrin Glüer, Professor in Theoretical Philosophy,
Stockholm University.

II) The motivational roots of knowledge resistance. This work package examines how individuals’ social identity needs
interact with contextual factors both to increase and mitigate rejection of evidence, and how changes in motivated
reasoning affect attitudes towards, and relations to one’s own and other groups. Principal investigator is Torun Lindholm,
Professor in Social psychology at Stockholm University.

III) Potential consequences of knowledge resistance on the democratic process. This work package examines how
partisanship and ideology may lead citizens to err in judgment, embrace biased perceptions and misevaluate evidence.
Principal investigator is Henrik Oscarsson, Professor in Political Science, Electoral Studies, University of Gothenburg.

IV) The role of media, media use, and media trust. This work package examines the supply of misinformation on different
types of both traditional news media and digital media; processes of selective exposure and how these are influenced by
pre-existing attitudes and beliefs; processes of selective attention and how these are influenced by pre-existing attitudes
and beliefs; and the mediating and moderating role of media trust and hostile media perceptions in terms of influencing
selective exposure, selective attention, and respondents’ attitudes and beliefs. Principal investigator is Jesper Strömbäck,
Professor in Journalism and Political Communication at the University of Gothenburg.

National project MAESTRO Grant (2011/02/A/HS6/00155) the National Centre for Science (2012-2018):
Our research program concerns the knowledge formation process informed by the theory of lay epistemic (Kruglanski,
1989). According to the theory, the construction of new knowledge is a persistent human activity. For activities ranging
from the relatively simple and mundane to the highly complex, new knowledge is essential to assure confident decisions
and reasoned actions. Given the ubiquity of knowledge formation concerns, and their essential psychological relevance to
human thoughts, feelings, and actions, understanding how knowledge is formed and changed, was recognized as a task of
considerable importance for psychological science. Thus, the general purpose of the present research program is to offer
an integrative, unique approach to the work on epistemic process, affording a bird’s eye perspective on knowledge
formation processes; their motivational, affective, cognitive, and neurocognitive underpinnings, and their ramifications for
a broad variety of social psychological phenomena: intrapersonal (e.g., decision making, ideological or religious beliefs),
interpersonal (e.g. perspective taking), and intergroup (e.g., group centrism, outgroup derogation).

More precisely, the present project aims to clarify two crucial but hardly investigated issues in epistemic theory to reach an
advanced model for the processes underlying knowledge formation in social domain. The first issue pertains to the
integration of cognitive abilities (actual and perceived) to epistemic theory. In this line of research we plan to: (1) further
explore the cognitive mechanisms of need for closure (related to cognitive inhibition and response control); (2) explore
possible association of need for closure with individual differences in a basic neurocognitive mechanism involved broadly in
self-regulation; (3) uncover the exact nature of perceived ability to achieve closure, the factor which in previous study
consistently interacted with need for closure in predicting judgments and decision making. The second issue pertains to the
role of distress in epistemic process. Finally, we suggest advanced model of epistemic process, predicting the role of
personal (cognitive, motivational and affective) as well as contextual (e.g., positive affect, personal control,
empowerment, level of expertise) components in it. We will apply this integrated model to explain such phenomena as
ineffective decision making process and adherence to extreme ideological or religious convictions.

For a broader description of the project in English click HERE.

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