Coronavirus (1473) The psychological drivers of misinformation belief and its resistance to correction

21 November, 2022

Thanks to the WHO Information Network for Epidemics (EPI-WIN) I read this

Review Article

The psychological drivers of misinformation belief and its resistance to correction

Ullrich K. H. Ecker, Stephan Lewandowsky, John Cook, Philipp Schmid, Lisa K. Fazio, Nadia Brashier, Panayiota Kendeou, Emily K. Vraga & Michelle A. Amazeen

Nature Reviews Psychology volume 1, pages13–29 (2022)

Published: 12 January 2022


Misinformation has been identified as a major contributor to various contentious contemporary events ranging from elections and referenda to the response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Not only can belief in misinformation lead to poor judgements and decision-making, it also exerts a lingering influence on people’s reasoning after it has been corrected — an effect known as the continued influence effect. In this Review, we describe the cognitive, social and affective factors that lead people to form or endorse misinformed views, and the psychological barriers to knowledge revision after misinformation has been corrected, including theories of continued influence. We discuss the effectiveness of both pre-emptive (‘prebunking’) and reactive (‘debunking’) interventions to reduce the effects of misinformation, as well as implications for information consumers and practitioners in various areas including journalism, public health, policymaking and education.

COMMENT (NPW): I found this to be highly readable overview of the topic. Especially useful were Figure 1 (Drivers of false beliefs); Fig 5 (Innoculation theory applied to misinformation); and Fig 6 (Strategies to counter misinformation).

We have previously discussed on HIFA the potential of kite-marking information sources, along the lines of the Health On The Net Foundation. This is not addressed in the review although the authors comment 'Whereas most news consumers do not notice or understand content labels forewarning that an article is news, opinion or advertising, more prominent labelling can nudge readers to adjust their comprehension and interpretation accordingly.' Previously HIFA members have highlighted the importance of health literacy and this is corroborated by the author's comment in the full text: 'Perhaps the most important approach to slowing the spread of misinformation is substantial investment in education, particularly to build information literacy skills in schools and beyond'.

Best wishes, Neil

Coordinator, HIFA project on COVID-19, supported by University of Edinburgh

Let's build a future where every person has access to reliable healthcare information and is protected from misinformation - Join HIFA:

HIFA profile: Neil Pakenham-Walsh is coordinator of the HIFA global health movement (Healthcare Information For All - ), a global community with more than 20,000 members in 180 countries, interacting on six global forums in four languages in collaboration with WHO. HIFA brings stakeholders together to accelerate progress towards universal access to reliable healthcare information. HIFA is administered by Global Healthcare Information Network, a UK based non-profit in official relations with the World Health Organization.

Twitter: @hifa_org