Research at Zinc Network: 2023 in review

For Zinc Network, 2023 has been one of our busiest years in recent memory, with our research team taking on bigger and more innovative projects than ever before. So as the year draws to a close, we wanted to share a little about what we’ve been up to, and how we’ve been using research to help support independent media and push back on hostile state influence.

2023 was the year we launched our V6 model, a research methodology which draws on behavioural science and learnings from some of our past projects. V6 assumes that as human beings we are not necessarily rational, and the wider social and informational context that influences our decision making needs to be reflected in the way that disinformation is countered.

V6 has six core components:

  • Identity
  • Grievance
  • Polarisation
  • Media habits
  • Trust (we calculate an composite trust score for institutions based off of their performance on key trust drivers, and weighted to reflect the importance of that driver in forming trust)
  • Cognitive openness (e.g. how open minded an individual is)

V6 is a research model that helps identify audiences vulnerable to disinformation, but persuadable to counter narratives. It recognises that disinformation preys on existing social fissures as well as psychological biases. Furthermore, once a piece of disinformation has been assimilated into an individual’s mental map of the world, and further facts build upon that, people become unwilling or unable to revise their world view. By using this model, campaigns and communications strategists can identify open-minded groups and reach them before they become captured by disinformation through appealing to their sense of identity and building trust on the drivers that matter to them.

In 2023, Zinc Network self-funded research in Burkina Faso and Kyrgyzstan to further refine our approach. In Kyrgyzstan we uncovered five unique audiences, with varying levels of cognitive openness but united by pride in their national identity and looking for partners who respect and protect that identity. Meanwhile, while Burkinabe respondents displayed a complex and multilayered sense of national, ethnic and regional identity, as well as high levels of cognitive openness, security concerns dominate their views of their country’s future. Versions of V6 research have run across multiple countries on three continents, allowing us to conduct a comparative analysis (for example, the country that is most likely to agree that ‘“truth” is just what somebody chooses to believe”? – Kyrgyzstan, where 90% agree).

At Zinc, we believe identity, trust and cognitive openness are key to understanding which audiences might be persuadable, whether to new media brands or to alternative points of view. We’re particularly proud of the way this has worked on our Central European Media Programme, where, by segmenting audiences in Poland, Romania, Bulgaria, Slovenia and Hungary according to their cognitive openness, values and perceived role for media, we have identified five different types of media consumer in each country. Outlets are using this segmentation to develop growth strategies that can help them sustainably build their market share and increase their revenue. Partner outlets have already told us that this research is vital for their expansion and long-term sustainability.

In 2024, we plan to continue to expand our range of work in our research team and to seek out new and innovative solutions to challenging research problems as threats to information integrity proliferate and deepen.

In the meantime, if any of the above programmes or countries are of interest, please do get in touch at