Ohio State receives $5 million gift to establish the Collaborative on the Science of Polarization and Misinformation
Research will study the impact of information and misinformation
The Ohio State University
The College of Arts and Sciences at The Ohio State University has received a $5 million gift from Gifford Weary and the Weary Family Foundation. This gift will launch the Collaborative on the Science of Polarization and Misinformation (C-SPAM), an interdisciplinary project dedicated to understanding the core psychological factors that contribute to the polarization of beliefs and attitudes.
Led by faculty in the Department of Psychology, the Collaborative for the Study of Polarization and Misinformation will bring together experts from across Ohio State and beyond to investigate the impact of information and misinformation on people’s beliefs and actions. This research will build on the social psychology program’s longstanding focus on understanding the origin of everyday beliefs and attitudes, which has been a key goal of the program since its inception in 1964.
“The purpose of the collaborative is to produce psychological, social and behavioral research on belief polarization and the causes, spread and detection of false or misleading information in our everyday lives,” said Weary. “Because such beliefs and information negatively affect individual health and tear at the very fabric of our society, I believe that their formation and spread might well be the challenge of the 21st century.”
Weary’s gift commitment includes the establishment of an endowed chair in the social psychology of polarization and misinformation, as well as program support for C-SPAM.
“Dr. Weary’s gift and the creation of this collaborative will serve as a platform for recruiting eminent faculty from around the world. It is an incredible opportunity to position the college and university as leaders in this field and to attract top talent from across the country,” said David Horn, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences.
Weary is an emeritus faculty member and former dean of social and behavioral sciences in the College of Arts and Sciences, and currently serves as vice chair of The Ohio State University Foundation Board.
“We are grateful to Dr. Gifford Weary and the Weary Family Foundation for their incredible generosity and vision in making this project a reality,” said Melissa Gilliam, executive vice president and provost. “This support will enable us to bring together a community of leading scholars who will work collaboratively to address some of the most pressing challenges facing our country today.
“Through C-SPAM, Ohio State is poised to make a significant impact on the field of psychology and on society as a whole,” Gilliam added.
Weary said she is thrilled to partner with the university and the College of Arts and Sciences to bring this vision to life.
“I am proud to support Ohio State in its efforts to better understand the psychological factors that contribute to polarization and misinformation,” she said. “This research is critical to ensuring that we have a more informed and engaged citizenry, and I am honored to be able to contribute to such an important cause.”