Beckman Fellow 2022-23

Leona Yi-Fan Su


Conversational Agents for Correction of Health Misinformation 

Su Leona imageThe wide and rapid spread of misinformation is a global problem and can pose serious threats to public health. The World Health Organization, along with the Mayo Clinic and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, has called for the development of effective tools to combat misinformation and deployed conversational agents to help the public navigate the COVID-19 pandemic. Yet, despite the increasing prevalence of conversational agents in daily life and their apparent promise for verifying information, many questions about their efficacy and mechanisms remain unanswered. 

Professor Su’s work will help bridge this gap by examining how and how well conversational agents’ misinformation-debunking processes work. The results are expected to make an important theoretical contribution to scholarship on the use of digital technologies for debunking purposes and to underpin the design and development of digital tools that can effectively correct health misinformation—a task with strong practical benefits in this age of digital misinformation. This project extends Professor Su’s ongoing work on misinformation-correction strategies involving the use of cutting-edge digital media and will enable the building of a comprehensive knowledge base at the intersection of misinformation, misinformation correction, and digital technologies that can be applied across numerous health contexts. Additionally, it will produce a more systematic understanding of the increasingly critical roles digital technologies play in shaping public knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors in the rapidly-evolving information ecosystem.