Psychology: Conspiracy theories increase mistrust of the vaccine

According to an English study published Wednesday, the more a person believes in conspiracy theories, the less they will have confidence in vaccination.

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According to the researchers, even a small increase in belief in these theories leads to a significant drop in confidence in vaccines. (Illustrative image)

AFP

Up to a third of the population in some countries is likely to believe in false information and conspiracy theories about Covid-19, which has the effect of increasing distrust of vaccination, researchers warned on Wednesday.

"We found a clear link between believing in conspiracy theories and reluctance towards a future vaccine," commented one of the authors of this study, Sander van der Linden, a researcher in social psychology at the University of Cambridge (England).

Published in the British journal “Royal Society Open Science”, this study is based on opinion polls carried out in the United Kingdom (two successive waves of approximately 1000 participants), the United States, Ireland, Mexico and Spain (700 participants each time).

Social networks propagate these theories

According to this work, the false theory that participants hold the most to is that the coronavirus was deliberately manufactured in a laboratory in the Chinese city of Wuhan, where the epidemic started. Some 33% of Mexican participants and 37% of Spanish participants consider this theory to be “reliable” (between 22 and 23% in the United Kingdom and the United States).

The false claim that the Covid-19 pandemic "is part of a plan to impose global vaccination" is deemed reliable by 22% of Mexican participants, 18% of Irish, Spanish and American participants, and 13% of British participants . Another false theory, that according to which the symptoms of Covid-19 are aggravated by the new 5G mobile phone networks: 16% of Mexican and Spanish participants adhere to it (12% in Ireland, 8% in the United Kingdom and the United States ).

Participants in the survey were asked both about their intentions for a future vaccine and how reliable they are to these different theories (on a scale of 1 to 7). According to the researchers, even a small increase in belief in these theories results in a significant drop in confidence in vaccines in the respondent.

These theories are propagated on social networks. Last week, Facebook announced the withdrawal of all accounts linked to the conspiratorial "QAnon" movement, as the number of supporters of this pro-Trump far-right movement exploded in the run-up to the US presidential election. “In addition to pointing out false claims, governments and tech companies should look for ways to improve digital media literacy among the population. Otherwise, developing a vaccine might not be enough, ”says Sander van der Linden.

(AFP / NXP)



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