Refuting spurious COVID-19 treatment claims reduces demand and misinformation sharing

MacFarlane, Douglas and Tay, Li and Hurlstone, Mark and Ecker, Ullrich (2021) Refuting spurious COVID-19 treatment claims reduces demand and misinformation sharing. Journal of Applied Research in Memory and Cognition, 10 (2). pp. 248-258. ISSN 2211-3681

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Abstract

The COVID-19 pandemic has seen a surge of health misinformation, which has had serious consequences including direct harm and opportunity costs. We investigated (N = 678) the impact of such misinformation on hypothetical demand (i.e., willingness-to-pay) for an unproven treatment, and propensity to promote (i.e., like or share) misinformation online. This is a novel approach, as previous research has used mainly questionnaire-based measures of reasoning. We also tested two interventions to counteract the misinformation, contrasting a tentative refutation based on materials used by health authorities with an enhanced refutation based on best-practice recommendations. We found prior exposure to misinformation increased misinformation promotion (by 18%). Both tentative and enhanced refutations reduced demand (by 18% and 25%, respectively) as well as misinformation promotion (by 29% and 55%). The fact that enhanced refutations were more effective at curbing promotion of misinformation highlights the need for debunking interventions to follow current best-practice guidelines.

Item Type:
Journal Article
Journal or Publication Title:
Journal of Applied Research in Memory and Cognition
Additional Information:
This is the author’s version of a work that was accepted for publication in Journal of Applied Research in Memory and Cognition. Changes resulting from the publishing process, such as peer review, editing, corrections, structural formatting, and other quality control mechanisms may not be reflected in this document. Changes may have been made to this work since it was submitted for publication. A definitive version was subsequently published in Journal of Applied Research in Memory and Cognition, 10, 2, 2021 DOI: 10.1016/j.jarmac.2020.12.005
Uncontrolled Keywords:
/dk/atira/pure/subjectarea/asjc/3200/3203
Subjects:
ID Code:
150394
Deposited By:
Deposited On:
07 Jan 2021 11:35
Refereed?:
Yes
Published?:
Published
Last Modified:
22 Nov 2021 15:59