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Conspiracy theories may put children's health at risk

Date:
August 27, 2013
Source:
British Psychological Society (BPS)
Summary:
A belief in conspiracy theories may influence parents' intentions to have their children vaccinated against diseases such as measles.

A belief in conspiracy theories may influence parents' intentions to have their children vaccinated against diseases such as measles. That is the conclusion of research being presented today, 28 August 2013, by Daniel Jolley and Karen Douglas at the Annual Conference of the British Psychological Society's Social Psychology Section in Exeter.

Jolley and Douglas asked a sample of 89 parents about their views on anti-vaccine conspiracy theories and then asked participants to indicate their intention to have a fictional child vaccinated. They found that stronger belief in anti-vaccine conspiracy theories was associated with less intention to have the child vaccinated.

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

Daniel Jolley said: "The recent outbreak of measles in the UK illustrates the importance of vaccination. Our studies demonstrate that anti-vaccine conspiracy theories may present a barrier to vaccine uptake."

Dr Douglas added: "Our findings point to the potentially detrimental consequences of anti-vaccine conspiracy theories. It is easy to treat belief in conspiracy theories lightly, but our studies show that wariness about conspiracy theories may be warranted."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by British Psychological Society (BPS). Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

British Psychological Society (BPS). "Conspiracy theories may put children's health at risk." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 27 August 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/08/130827204042.htm>.
British Psychological Society (BPS). (2013, August 27). Conspiracy theories may put children's health at risk. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 17, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/08/130827204042.htm
British Psychological Society (BPS). "Conspiracy theories may put children's health at risk." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/08/130827204042.htm (accessed April 17, 2014).

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