Fighting the Infodemic on Two Fronts: Reducing False Beliefs Without Increasing Polarization

Dan, Viorela; Dixon, Graham N.
Science Communication

Actors aiming to remedy the effects of health misinformation often issue corrections focused on individual outcomes (i.e., promoting individual health behaviors) rather than societal outcomes (i.e., reducing issue polarization). Yet, for highly politicized health crises like the COVID-19 pandemic, such interventions run the risk of exacerbating societal cleavages, driving those holding opposing views further apart from one another. Interventions yielding individual benefits but causing societal harm are certainly not ideal. But is the design of such dual-focus corrections even possible? We believe this to be the case. Here, we delineate an agenda for future research that should help social scientists in identifying the characteristics of corrections that might reduce false beliefs without increasing polarization.