The State of the Nation | A 50-State Covid-19 Survey | Report #14: MIsinformation and Vaccine Acceptance

Baum, Matthew; Ognyanova, Katherine; Chwe, Hanyu; Quintana, Alexi; Perlis, Roy H.; Lazer, David; Druckman, James; Santillana, Mauricio; Lin, Jennifer; Della Volpe, John; Simonson, Matthew; Green, Jon

Scholars and public health officials have expressed growing alarm over what some have
termed a “misinfodemic” − a parallel epidemic of misinformation − around COVID-19.
Indeed, conspiracy theories, from the Plandemic pseudo-documentary to QAnon, fuel
rising skepticism about scientific facts across many areas of public life, and in recent
months especially with respect to COVID-19. Misperceptions, which can rapidly spread
from obscurity to mass exposure via social media, may have the capacity to hinder the
efficacy of public health efforts aimed at slowing the spread of the pandemic. Especially
concerning, encountering false claims online may ultimately reduce the willingness of
some Americans to get a COVID-19 vaccine when it becomes available.
In this report, we assess respondents’ acceptance of 11 false claims that have circulated
online since the beginning of the pandemic. The statements we use include six false claims
about conspiracies or risk factors and five false purported preventive treatments for
COVID-19. For the conspiracies/risk factors, we asked respondents whether or not they
thought each claim was accurate, or whether they were unsure about its accuracy. For the
false preventive treatments, we asked participants whether or not they believed the
purported treatment was effective, or whether they were unsure about its efficacy.
Here, we explore some of the factors associated with higher or lower likelihood of
believing false claims. We then consider the association between believing false
information about COVID-19 and vaccine acceptance.