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Anti-vaccine conspiracy theories

Martin Herrema thumbnail By Martin Herrema | 25 February 2014

Research shows a belief in anti-vaccine conspiracy theories may have significant and detrimental consequences for children’s health.

Child holding vaccines
Vacunas
Flickr: Picture by Carlos Reusser Monsalvez. Licensed under CC BY

Researchers Daniel Jolley and Dr Karen Douglas, of the School of Psychology, surveyed 89 parents about their views on anti-vaccine conspiracy theories and then asked them to indicate their intention to have a fictional child vaccinated. It was found that stronger belief in anti-vaccine conspiracy theories was associated with lower intention to vaccinate.

In a second study, 188 participants were exposed to information concerning anti-vaccine conspiracy theories. It was found that reading this material reduced their intention to have a fictional child vaccinated, relative to participants who were given refuting information or those in a control condition.

The research, titled ‘The effects of anti-vaccine conspiracy theories on vaccination intentions’, was carried out by Daniel Jolley, Postgraduate Researcher, and Dr Karen Douglas, Reader in Psychology, at the University of Kent. It is published in the open-access, online journal PLOS ONE and is available here: http://dx.plos.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0089177.

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