Madrid, 3 years ago. (European Press) –
In the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is essential to understand why people are refusing or delaying vaccination indefinitely. A Polish study raises the impact of attractive anti-vaccine arguments effectively, as well as public skepticism toward major pharmaceutical companies, science, and health care providers. However, the researchers concluded that vaccine deniers rely primarily on a widespread negative attitude, which can be better countered if the spread of vaccine-related misinformation is addressed.
The study, conducted at the Jagiellonian University in Krakow and the SWPS University of Social Sciences and Humanities in Wroclaw and published in the peer-reviewed academic journal ‘Social Psychological Bulletin’, uses data from a total of 492 participants, who self-identified. Ambiguous about or against vaccination.
Arguments were collected during a conference in which anti-vaccination people expressed their position on this issue. Interestingly, although they often stated that their position was based on their negative experience with vaccinations or on what was observed, when asked about their reasons, they were quite ambiguous in their explanations. Many said they did not remember the source of the information, while others attributed the vaccines to autism, allergies or the fact that the children were sick, although there was no evidence of an association.
These cases can be explained by the tendency of people to remember negative information, even if it is simply read on the Internet.
“Confirmation bias is that the individual actively seeks information that is consistent with his or her pre-existing hypothesis, and avoids information that points to alternative explanations,” the researchers say. Therefore, a pre-existing negative attitude toward vaccines can cause individuals to interpret negative symptoms as consequences of vaccines, reinforcing the negative attitude.”
The research team, led by Dr. Katarzyna Stasiuk, remembers that when given similar information from multiple sources, people tend to forget how they learned it, often mistaking it for their own experience or that of those close to them. As a result, it can become another source of misinformation.
Ultimately, vaccine deniers believe that vaccines cause serious negative side effects, that they do not protect an individual or society from infectious diseases, and have not been sufficiently proven before their introduction. Moreover, they are convinced that anti-vaccine leaders are more informed about vaccines than doctors, and rather that they are the first to act in the public interest.
They found it intriguing that, compared to the self-proclaimed vaccine aversion group, vaccine opponents were more inclined to believe that modern medicine could handle an epidemic.
Meanwhile, the most ambiguous respondents to the survey about vaccines were confident in the effectiveness of the vaccines, as well as having undergone adequate research. However, they have remained vulnerable to allegations by the anti-vaccine movement about side effects and a “big pharma conspiracy.” Also, if they are presented with well-prepared arguments, they are likely to become vaccine deniers.
In conclusion, the scientists note that the existing evidence is quite pessimistic about the possibility of changing the attitudes of opponents of vaccines, so they recommend that efforts focus on convincing the obscure group of vaccines, so that your concern about negative effects is reduced. They also suggest that they should be presented with positive social arguments about the reasons why medical professionals recommend vaccines, in order to reinforce the positive points of their position.
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