Publications by authors named "Mark Alfano"

9 Publications

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The Development and Validation of the Epistemic Vice Scale.

Rev Philos Psychol 2021 Jun 25:1-28. Epub 2021 Jun 25.

Faculty of Philosophy, Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia.

This paper presents two studies on the development and validation of a ten-item scale of epistemic vice and the relationship between epistemic vice and misinformation and fake news. Epistemic vices have been defined as character traits that interfere with acquiring, maintaining, and transmitting knowledge. Examples of epistemic vice are gullibility and indifference to knowledge. It has been hypothesized that epistemically vicious people are especially susceptible to misinformation and conspiracy theories. We conducted one exploratory and one confirmatory observational survey study on Amazon Mechanical Turk among people living in the United States (total  = 1737). We show that two psychological traits underlie the range of epistemic vices that we investigated: indifference to truth and rigidity. Indifference manifests itself in a lack of motivation to find the truth. Rigidity manifests itself in being insensitive to evidence. We develop a scale to measure epistemic vice with the subscales indifference and rigidity. The Epistemic Vice Scale is internally consistent; has good convergent, divergent, and discriminant validity; and is strongly associated with the endorsement of misinformation and conspiracy theories. Epistemic vice explains additional variance in the endorsement of misinformation and conspiracy theories over and above demographic and related psychological concepts and shows medium to large effect sizes across outcome measures. We demonstrate that epistemic vice differs from existing psychological constructs, and show that the scale can explain individual differences in dealing with misinformation and conspiracy theories. We conclude that epistemic vice might contribute to "postfactive" ways of thinking.

Supplementary Information: The online version contains supplementary material available at 10.1007/s13164-021-00562-5.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s13164-021-00562-5DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8231755PMC
June 2021

Stewardship of global collective behavior.

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 2021 Jul;118(27)

Department of Psychology, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ 08544.

Collective behavior provides a framework for understanding how the actions and properties of groups emerge from the way individuals generate and share information. In humans, information flows were initially shaped by natural selection yet are increasingly structured by emerging communication technologies. Our larger, more complex social networks now transfer high-fidelity information over vast distances at low cost. The digital age and the rise of social media have accelerated changes to our social systems, with poorly understood functional consequences. This gap in our knowledge represents a principal challenge to scientific progress, democracy, and actions to address global crises. We argue that the study of collective behavior must rise to a "crisis discipline" just as medicine, conservation, and climate science have, with a focus on providing actionable insight to policymakers and regulators for the stewardship of social systems.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1073/pnas.2025764118DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8271675PMC
July 2021

Moral reasoning is the process of asking moral questions and answering them.

Authors:
Mark Alfano

Behav Brain Sci 2019 Sep 11;42:e147. Epub 2019 Sep 11.

Ethics and Philosophy of Technology, Delft University of Technology, 2628 BX Delft, The

Reasoning is the iterative, path-dependent process of asking questions and answering them. Moral reasoning is a species of such reasoning, so it is a matter of asking and answering moral questions, which requires both creativity and curiosity. As such, interventions and practices that help people ask more and better moral questions promise to improve moral reasoning.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S0140525X18002534DOI Listing
September 2019

The Nietzschean precedent for anti-reflective, dialogical agency.

Authors:
Mark Alfano

Behav Brain Sci 2018 01;41:e37

Ethics & Philosophy of Technology,Delft University of Technology,Delft,Netherlands;Institute for Religion and Critical Inquiry, Australian Catholic

Nietzsche anticipates both the anti-reflective and the dialogical aspects of Doris's theory of agency. Nietzsche's doctrine of will to power presupposes that agency does not require reflection but emerges from interacting drives, affects, and emotions. Furthermore, Nietzsche identifies two channels through which dialogical processes of person-formation flow: sometimes a person announces what she is and meets with social acceptance of that claim; sometimes someone else announces what the person is, and she accepts the attribution.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S0140525X17000620DOI Listing
January 2018

Development and validation of a multi-dimensional measure of intellectual humility.

PLoS One 2017 16;12(8):e0182950. Epub 2017 Aug 16.

Psychology Department, University of Notre Dame, South Bend, Indiana, United States of America.

This paper presents five studies on the development and validation of a scale of intellectual humility. This scale captures cognitive, affective, behavioral, and motivational components of the construct that have been identified by various philosophers in their conceptual analyses of intellectual humility. We find that intellectual humility has four core dimensions: Open-mindedness (versus Arrogance), Intellectual Modesty (versus Vanity), Corrigibility (versus Fragility), and Engagement (versus Boredom). These dimensions display adequate self-informant agreement, and adequate convergent, divergent, and discriminant validity. In particular, Open-mindedness adds predictive power beyond the Big Six for an objective behavioral measure of intellectual humility, and Intellectual Modesty is uniquely related to Narcissism. We find that a similar factor structure emerges in Germanophone participants, giving initial evidence for the model's cross-cultural generalizability.
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http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0182950PLOS
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5559088PMC
October 2017

Response to Open Peer Commentaries on "Placebo Effects and Informed Consent".

Authors:
Mark Alfano

Am J Bioeth 2015 ;15(10):W1-3

a Delft University of Technology.

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http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/15265161.2015.1075790DOI Listing
May 2016

Placebo Effects and Informed Consent.

Authors:
Mark Alfano

Am J Bioeth 2015 ;15(10):3-12

a Delft University of Technology.

The concepts of placebos and placebo effects refer to extremely diverse phenomena. I recommend dissolving the concepts of placebos and placebo effects into loosely related groups of specific mechanisms, including (potentially among others) expectation-fulfillment, classical conditioning, and attentional-somatic feedback loops. If this approach is on the right track, it has three main implications for the ethics of informed consent. First, because of the expectation-fulfillment mechanism, the process of informing cannot be considered independently from the potential effects of treatment. Obtaining informed consent influences the effects of treatment. This provides support for the authorized concealment and authorized deception paradigms, and perhaps even for outright deceptive placebo use. Second, doctors may easily fail to consider the potential benefits of conditioning, leading them to misjudge the trade-off between beneficence and autonomy. Third, how attentional-somatic feedback loops play out depends not only on the content of the informing process but also on its framing. This suggests a role for libertarian paternalism in clinical practice.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/15265161.2015.1074302DOI Listing
May 2016

Functional outcome in TBI II: verbal memory and information processing speed mediators.

J Clin Exp Neuropsychol 2006 May;28(4):581-91

Neuropsychology Division, Neuropsychiatric Institute and Hospital, UCLA, Los Angeles, CA 90024, USA.

Following traumatic brain injury (TBI), patients often report memory difficulties, as well as reduced information processing speed. However, it remains unclear the extent to which these deficits contribute to functional impairment. In the present study, we compared the relative contribution of verbal memory and information processing speed to functional impairment at 12-month post-injury, in 87 patients with moderate-to-severe TBI. Employing structural equation modeling, we found that information processing speed, but not verbal memory functions, significantly mediated the relationship between TBI severity and post-TBI adaptive functioning. These findings suggest that despite the pervasive memory complaints among patients with TBI, it is the impact of neurotrauma on frontal systems that appears to be primarily responsible for patients' difficulties in social and occupational functioning.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/13803390500434474DOI Listing
May 2006

Functional outcome in TBI I: neuropsychological, emotional, and behavioral mediators.

J Clin Exp Neuropsychol 2006 May;28(4):567-80

Neuropsychology Division, Neuropsychiatric Institute and Hospital, UCLA, Los Angeles, CA 90024, USA.

Literature exists to suggest that the severity of traumatic brain injury (TBI) is positively associated with the severity of functional impairment. However, potential mediators of this relationship have not been studied systematically. In the present study, we evaluated a model hypothesized to explain the relationship between TBI severity and functional impairment in 87 patients with moderate-to-severe TBI, studied longitudinally. Using structural equation modeling, we found that only neuropsychological status (but not emotional or behavioral difficulties) consistently mediated the relationship between TBI severity and functional outcome at 12-months post-injury. These findings suggest that, of the factors examined here, neurocognitive compromise plays the most prominent role in mediating post-TBI adaptive functioning in moderate-to-severe TBI, which has important implications for post-injury interventions.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/13803390500434466DOI Listing
May 2006
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