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

In a new paper that we have recently published, we found 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.

The paper with the tag-line “prevention is better than cure” has been published in the Journal of Applied Social Psychology by myself and Karen Douglas.  The paper includes two experimental studies where participants were exposed to anti-vaccination conspiracy theories and factual information on vaccinations in alternate order. The participants then had to decide if they would vaccinate a child.

We found that participants who were given anti-vaccination conspiracy theories, before reading factual information about vaccines, were less likely to decide to vaccinate a child. Those who had the factual information first were resistant to conspiracy theories and were more likely to vaccinate.

In our previous research, we have demonstrated that conspiracy theories can potentially stop people from engaging in society in a positive way (see various posts on this blog such as here).  This current research highlights that once a conspiracy account has been established, it may be resistant to correction.  It is, therefore, important that other tools are developed that may help combat the negative impact of conspiracy theories.


You can access a full copy of the paper here.

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

  1. g888 says:

    So the prevention of blindly accepting vaccines as the best option for an alleged cure could also be the best choice.. When one takes into account the legal case law history of government and big pharma paying for vaccine damage in those case law conclusions.. A sum total into the billions now in the U.S. alone.. Is no conspiracy theory at all…

  2. Yes, getting children (and adults) vaccinated is the best option. The more people who are vaccinated, the safer we all are, as some can’t be vaccinated and newborn babies are too young but can still get the diseases. Doctors around the world are interested in prevention. They would make more money treating sick kids who get those diseases than they make giving vaccinations to prevent them. See how long you can listen to this baby with pertussis.

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