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Wednesday, January 12, 2022

Continued Influence Effect and Vaccine Myths

 In The Politics of Autism, I analyze the discredited notion that vaccines cause autism. This bogus idea can hurt people by allowing diseases to spread  And among those diseases could be COVID-19.

Antivaxxers are sometimes violent, often abusive, and always wrong

Ullrich K. H. Ecke and colleagues have an article at Nature Reviews Psychology titled "The psychological drivers of misinformation belief and its resistance to correction."

The abstract:
Misinformation has been identified as a major contributor to various contentious contemporary events ranging from elections and referenda to the response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Not only can belief in misinformation lead to poor judgements and decision-making, it also exerts a lingering influence on people’s reasoning after it has been corrected — an effect known as the continued influence effect. In this Review, we describe the cognitive, social and affective factors that lead people to form or endorse misinformed views, and the psychological barriers to knowledge revision after misinformation has been corrected, including theories of continued influence. We discuss the effectiveness of both pre-emptive (‘prebunking’) and reactive (‘debunking’) interventions to reduce the effects of misinformation, as well as implications for information consumers and practitioners in various areas including journalism, public health, policymaking and education.
From the article:
A tacit assumption of the information deficit model is that false beliefs can easily be corrected by providing relevant facts. However, misinformation can often continue to influence people’s thinking even after they receive a correction and accept it as true. This persistence is known as the continued influence effect (CIE)85,86,87,88.

In the typical CIE laboratory paradigm, participants are presented with a report of an event (for example, a fire) that contains a critical piece of information related to the event’s cause (‘the fire was probably caused by arson’). That information might be subsequently challenged by a correction, which can take the form of a retraction (a simple negation, such as ‘it is not true that arson caused the fire’) or a refutation (a more detailed correction that explains why the misinformation was false). When reasoning about the event later (for example, responding to questions such as ‘what should authorities do now?’), individuals often continue to rely on the critical information even after receiving — and being able to recall — a correction89. Variants of this paradigm have used false real-world claims or urban myths90,91,92. Corrected misinformation can also continue to influence the amount a person is willing to pay for a consumer product or their propensity to promote a social media post93,94,95. The CIE might be an influential factor in the persistence of beliefs that there is a link between vaccines and autism despite strong evidence discrediting this link96,97 or that weapons of mass destruction were found in Iraq in 2003 despite no supporting evidence98. The CIE has primarily been conceptualized as a cognitive effect, with social and affective underpinnings.

Practitioners must be aware that simple retractions will be insufficient to mitigate the impact of misinformation, and that the effects of interventions tend to wear off over time92,145,152. If possible, practitioners must therefore be prepared to act repeatedly179. Creating engaging, fact-based narratives can provide a foundation for effective correction215,216. However, a narrative format is not a necessary ingredient140,217, and anecdotes and stories can also be misleading218.