Stephan is a cognitive scientist at the University of Bristol and the recipient of numerous awards and honours, including a Discovery Outstanding Researcher Award from the Australian Research Council, a Wolfson Research Merit Fellowship from the Royal Society, and a Humboldt Research Award from the Humboldt Foundation in Germany. He is a Fellow of the Academy of Social Science (UK) and a Fellow of the Association of Psychological Science. He was appointed a fellow of the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry for his commitment to science, rational inquiry and public education. He also holds a Guest Professorship at the University of Potsdam in Germany.
His research examines people’s memory, decision making, and knowledge structures, with a particular emphasis on how people update their memories if information they consider to be true turns out to be false. His research currently focuses on the persistence of misinformation and spread of “fake news” in society, including conspiracy theories. He is particularly interested in the variables that determine whether or not people accept scientific evidence, for example surrounding vaccinations or climate science.
He has published more than 240 scholarly articles, chapters, and books. His research regularly appears in journals such as Nature Human Behaviour, Nature Communications, and Psychological Review. (See www.cogsciwa.com for a complete list of scientific publications.)
His research is currently funded by the European Research Council, the EU’s Horizon 2020 programme, the UK research agency (UKRI, through Centre of Excellence REPHRAIN), the Volkswagen Foundation, the John Templeton Foundation (via Wake Forest University’s “Honesty Project”), Google’s Jigsaw, and by the Social Sciences Research Council (SSRC) Mercury Project.