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An experimental investigation into the transmission of antivax attitudes using a fictional health controversy.

Published on Oct 1, 2018in Social Science & Medicine3.087
· DOI :10.1016/j.socscimed.2018.08.032
Ángel V. Jiménez1
Estimated H-index: 1
(University of Exeter),
Joseph M. Stubbersfield5
Estimated H-index: 5
(Durham University),
Jamshid J. Tehrani12
Estimated H-index: 12
(Durham University)
Abstract
Abstract Rationale. Although vaccines are an invaluable weapon in combatting diseases, they are often surrounded by controversy. Vaccine controversies usually arise with the claims of some parents or doctors who link vaccines to harmful outcomes. These controversies often negatively affect vaccination coverage. Objectives This experiment simulated a vaccine controversy to understand which content features of vaccination-related information are well transmitted and how this transmission affects vaccine intention. Method All participants (N = 64) read two conflicting views (pro- and anti-) about a fictional vaccine (‘dipherpox vaccine’). These conflicting views were held by a parent and a doctor, whose views varied across conditions. This information was transmitted along linear chains of four participants who recalled it and the product of their recall was passed to the next participant within their chain. They also responded whether they would vaccinate or not. Results The experience-based view held by the parent was better transmitted than the medical-based view held by the doctor, while the pro-vaccine and anti-vaccine views were similarly transmitted. Despite all the participants having neutral or positive attitudes towards vaccines in general, 39.1% of them decided not to vaccinate. Nevertheless, vaccination attitude was the strongest predictor of vaccination intention. The less positive participants' attitudes were towards vaccines in general, the less likely they were to vaccinate against dipherpox after exposure to the controversy. Conclusion The results suggest that vaccination campaigns may be made more effective by including personal experiences of the negative consequences of non-vaccination.
  • References (27)
  • Citations (3)
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References27
Newest
#1Terra Manca (U of A: University of Alberta)H-Index: 4
Abstract In recent years, the Canadian province of Alberta experienced outbreaks of measles, mumps, pertussis, and influenza. Even so, the dominant cultural narrative maintains that vaccines are safe, effective, and necessary to maintain population health. Many vaccine supporters have expressed anxieties that stories contradicting this narrative have lowered herd immunity levels because they frighten the public into avoiding vaccination. As such, vaccine policies often emphasize educating parent...
5 CitationsSource
#1Theodore S. Tomeny (UA: University of Alabama)H-Index: 8
#2Chris J. Vargo (CU: University of Colorado Boulder)H-Index: 10
Last. Sherine El-Toukhy (NIH: National Institutes of Health)H-Index: 6
view all 3 authors...
Abstract This study examines temporal trends, geographic distribution, and demographic correlates of anti-vaccine beliefs on Twitter, 2009–2015. A total of 549,972 tweets were downloaded and coded for the presence of anti-vaccine beliefs through a machine learning algorithm. Tweets with self-disclosed geographic information were resolved and United States Census data were collected for corresponding areas at the micropolitan/metropolitan level. Trends in number of anti-vaccine tweets were examin...
10 CitationsSource
#1Joseph M. Stubbersfield (Durham University)H-Index: 5
#2Emma Flynn (Durham University)H-Index: 24
Last. Jamshid J. Tehrani (Durham University)H-Index: 12
view all 3 authors...
Recent research into cultural transmission suggests that humans are disposed to learn, remember, and transmit certain types of information more easily than others, and that any information that is passed between people will be subjected to cognitive selective pressures that alter the content and structure so as to make it maximally transmittable. This paper presents a review of emerging research on content biases in cultural evolution with relevance to the transmission of popular narratives. Thi...
4 CitationsSource
#1Joseph M. Stubbersfield (Durham University)H-Index: 5
#2Jamshid J. Tehrani (Durham University)H-Index: 12
Last. Emma Flynn (Durham University)H-Index: 24
view all 3 authors...
This study used urban legends to examine the effects of a cognitive bias for content which evokes higher levels of emotion on cumulative recall. As with previous research into content biases, a linear transmission chain design was used. One-hundred and twenty participants, aged 16–52, were asked to read and then recall urban legends that provoked both high levels and low levels of emotion and were both positively and negatively valenced. The product of this recall was presented to the next parti...
9 CitationsSource
#1Keely Bebbington (UWA: University of Western Australia)H-Index: 4
#2Colin MacLeod (UWA: University of Western Australia)H-Index: 48
Last. Nicolas Fay (UWA: University of Western Australia)H-Index: 17
view all 4 authors...
Abstract The method of serial reproduction has revealed that the social transmission of information is characterized by the gradual transformation of the original message. This transformation results from the preferential survival of certain types of information and the resolution of ambiguity. Here we present evidence of a bias favoring the social transmission of negatively-valenced information across multiple transmission episodes. Ninety-two, four-person chains transmitted a story containing ...
30 CitationsSource
#1Heidi J. Larson (Lond: University of London)H-Index: 42
#2Alexandre de Figueiredo (Imperial College London)H-Index: 4
Last. Nick S. Jones (Imperial College London)H-Index: 28
view all 8 authors...
Background Public trust in immunization is an increasingly important global health issue. Losses in confidence in vaccines and immunization programmes can lead to vaccine reluctance and refusal, risking disease outbreaks and challenging immunization goals in high- and low-income settings. National and international immunization stakeholders have called for better monitoring of vaccine confidence to identify emerging concerns before they evolve into vaccine confidence crises.
158 CitationsSource
#1Joseph HenrichH-Index: 62
Preface ix 1 A Puzzling Primate 1 2 It's Not Our Intelligence 8 3 Lost European Explorers 22 4 How to Make a Cultural Species 34 5 What Are Big Brains For? Or, How Culture Stole Our Guts 54 6 Why Some People Have Blue Eyes 83 7 On the Origin of Faith 97 8 Prestige, Dominance, and Menopause 117 9 In-Laws, Incest Taboos, and Rituals 140 10 Intergroup Competition Shapes Cultural Evolution 166 11 Self-Domestication 185 12 Our Collective Brains 211 13 Communicative Tools with Rules 231 14 Enculturate...
292 Citations
#1Douglas M. BatesH-Index: 32
#2Martin MächlerH-Index: 17
Last. Steve WalkerH-Index: 2
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Maximum likelihood or restricted maximum likelihood (REML) estimates of the parameters in linear mixed-effects models can be determined using the lmer function in the lme4 package for R. As for most model-fitting functions in R, the model is described in an lmer call by a formula, in this case including both fixed- and random-effects terms. The formula and data together determine a numerical representation of the model from which the profiled deviance or the profiled REML criterion can be evalua...
14.9k CitationsSource
#1Matthew Browne (Central Queensland University)H-Index: 17
#2Pat Thomson (RMIT: RMIT University)H-Index: 33
Last. Gordon Pennycook (UW: University of Waterloo)H-Index: 30
view all 4 authors...
By far the most common strategy used in the attempt to modify negative attitudes toward vaccination is to appeal to evidence-based reasoning. We argue, however, that focusing on science comprehension is inconsistent with one of the key facts of cognitive psychology: Humans are biased information processors and often engage in motivated reasoning. On this basis, we hypothesised that negative attitudes can be explained primarily by factors unrelated to the empirical evidence for vaccination; inclu...
37 CitationsSource
#1Joseph M. Stubbersfield (Durham University)H-Index: 5
#2Jamshid J. Tehrani (Durham University)H-Index: 12
Last. Emma Flynn (Durham University)H-Index: 24
view all 3 authors...
This study uses urban legends to examine the effects of the social information bias and survival information bias on cultural transmission across three phases of transmission: the choose-to-receive phase, the encode-and-retrieve phase, and the choose-to-transmit phase. In line with previous research into content biases, a linear transmission chain design with 60 participants aged 18–52 was used to examine the encode-and-retrieve phase, while participants were asked to rank their interest in read...
29 CitationsSource
Cited By3
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: Efficiently communicating information on vaccination is crucial to maintaining a high level of immunization coverage, but it implies finding the right content for the right audience. Provaccination individuals, who represent the majority of the population, and who have been neglected in the literature, could play an important role relaying provaccination messages through informal discussions, if only these messages are (a) found plausible, (b) remembered, and (c) shared. We conducted 7 experim...
2 CitationsSource
#1Nora Hamdiui (Radboud University Nijmegen)H-Index: 2
#1Nora Hamdiui (Radboud University Nijmegen)
Last. Mart L. SteinH-Index: 6
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BACKGROUND: Early detection, identification, and treatment of chronic hepatitis B through screening is vital for those at increased risk, e.g. born in hepatitis B endemic countries. In the Netherlands, Moroccan immigrants show low participation rates in health-related screening programmes. Since social networks influence health behaviour, we investigated whether similar screening intentions for chronic hepatitis B cluster within social networks of Moroccan immigrants. METHODS: We used respondent...
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#1Ángel V. JiménezH-Index: 2
#2Alex MesoudiH-Index: 33
Last. Jamishid J. TehraniH-Index: 1
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Despite the spectacular success of vaccines in preventing infectious diseases, fears about their safety and other anti-vaccination claims are widespread. To better understand how such fears and claims persist and spread, we must understand how they are perceived and recalled. One influence on the perception and recall of vaccination-related information might be universal cognitive biases acting against vaccination. An omission bias describes the tendency to perceive as worse, and recall better, ...
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The emerging concept of planetary health—defined as the interdependent vitality of all natural and anthropogenic ecosystems (social, political, and otherwise)—emphasizes that the health of human civilization is intricately connected to the health of natural systems within the Earth’s biosphere. In the clinical setting, narrative medicine underscores the importance of absorbing, reflecting upon, and responding to the narratives—the stories—conveyed by patients. Education and interventions using t...
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#1Ángel V. Jiménez (University of Exeter)H-Index: 2
#2Alex Mesoudi (University of Exeter)H-Index: 33
Cultural evolution theory posits that a major factor in human ecological success is our high-fidelity and selective social learning, which permits the accumulation of adaptive knowledge and skills over successive generations. One way to acquire adaptive social information is by preferentially copying competent individuals within a valuable domain (success bias). However, competence within a domain is often difficult or impossible to directly assess. Almost 20 years ago, Henrich and Gil-White (H&...
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#1M de Barra (Brunel University London)
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Ineffective, aversive and harmful medical treatments are common cross-culturally, historically and today. Using evolutionary game theory, we develop the following model to explain their persistence. Humans are often incapacitated by illness and injury, and are unusually dependent on care from others during convalescence. However, such caregiving is vulnerable to exploitation via illness deception, whereby people feign or exaggerate illness in order to gain access to care. Our model demonstrates ...
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