Prevention is better than cure: Addressing anti-vaccine conspiracy theories

Daniel Jolley, Karen M. Douglas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

74 Citations (Scopus)
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The current research tested if explicit anti‐conspiracy arguments could be an effective method of addressing the potentially harmful effects of anti‐vaccine conspiracy theories. In two studies, participants were presented with anti‐conspiracy arguments either before, or after reading arguments in favor of popular conspiracy theories concerning vaccination. In both studies, anti‐conspiracy arguments increased intentions to vaccinate a fictional child but only when presented prior to conspiracy theories. This effect was mediated by belief in anti‐vaccine conspiracy theories and the perception that vaccines are dangerous. These findings suggest that people can be inoculated against the potentially harmful effects of anti‐vaccine conspiracy theories, but that once they are established, the conspiracy theories may be difficult to correct.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)459-469
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Applied Social Psychology
Issue number8
Early online date28 Jun 2017
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2017
Externally publishedYes

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