Nationalism as a Cognitive Preference of the Western Balkans


  • Milica Knezevic University of Ljubljana


Research backbone

While exploring the topic of fake news we can easily come across the concept of “Cognitive Preferences” (CP). CP dictate a set of emotion triggering concepts that play with our mind in a way that makes us “prefer” certain content more. For example, when talking about cognitive preferences: for fear evoking factors, we understand that it is the need and desire of any living being to survive, we are drawn to things that pose a threat in order to be better prepared if a threatening event were to happen. [1] CP, like any other cultural discovery, opened the door to misuse. In our case, this type of understanding of cultural evolution has brought about an easy way for media to manipulate and shape our thoughts and opinions. We will explore and discuss the concept of nationalism as a CP in political content that has become prevalent in the Western Balkans. In this research, we heavily relied on cultural evolution in the digital age and drew conclusions from material related to CP in order to come up with a clear and comprehensive answer as to why we are drawn to nationalistic content [2]. We also used reviews done in political science to shine light on the severity of nationalistic narratives and political misinformation in general. [3] The research done is based on a questionnaire set to present the current climate in Montenegro in relation to nationalism as a CP and the trust in media in Montenegro


The questionnaire that will be presented as a method of obtaining experiential data, will ask young people from 18 to 30 years old from Montenegro to rate, score and describe how nationalism plays a part in the growing hostile climate currently plaguing the region. The results obtained will indicate the level of trust young people have towards the media.

Expected results

We expect to see a large level of mistrust in media in Montenegro due to nationalistic narratives and to be able to easily tie these results with existing literature on the topic, thus shining light on the problems of nationalistic narratives in media that have at this time engulfed the world in flames.

Proposing solutions and future works:

After obtaining data, the goal of this research is to propose a form of solution to the issue.


[1] A. Acerbi, “Cognitive attraction and online misinformation,” Nature, pp. 1–7, 2019.

[2] A. Acerbi, Cultural Evolution In The Digital Age, Oxford : Oxford University Press, 2020.

[3] J. Jerit, and Y. Zhao, “Political Misinformation,” Annual Review of Political Science, pp. 77–94, 2020.