One dose is not enough: the beneficial effect of corrective COVID-19 information is diminished if followed by misinformation

Michael Craig, Santosh Vijaykumar*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
12 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

The World Health Organization (WHO) released a series of mythbuster infographics to combat misinformation during the COVID-19 infodemic. While the corrective effects of such debunking interventions have typically been examined in the immediate aftermath of intervention delivery; the durability of these corrective effects and their resilience against subsequent misinformation remains poorly understood. To this end, we asked younger and older adults to rate the truthfulness and credibility of 10 statements containing misinformation about common COVID-19 myths, as well as their willingness to share the statements through social media. They did this three times, before and after experimental interventions within a single study session. In keeping with established findings, exposure to the WHO’s myth-busting infographics—(a) improved participants’ ratings of the misinformation statements as untruthful and uncredible and (b) reduced their reported willingness to share the statements. However, within-subject data revealed these beneficial effects were diminished if corrective information was presented shortly by misinformation, but the effects remained when further corrective information was presented. Throughout the study, younger adults rated the misinformation statements as more truthful and credible and were more willing to share them. Our data reveal that the benefit of COVID-19 debunking interventions may be short-lived if followed shortly by misinformation. Still, the effect can be maintained in the presence of further corrective information. These outcomes provide insights into the effectiveness and durability of corrective information and can influence strategies for tackling health-related misinformation, especially in younger adults.

Original languageEnglish
Article number205630512311612
Pages (from-to)1-14
Number of pages14
JournalSocial Media and Society
Volume9
Issue number2
Early online date17 Apr 2023
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2023

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