Psychology Research Challenges Conventional Perspectives on Conspiracy Beliefs and Vaccine Hesitancy – EVOL

A recent study published in Social Psychological and Personality Science suggests that the relationship between conspiracy theories and vaccination hesitancy is more complex than previously thought. While it is commonly believed that conspiracy theories drive vaccination hesitancy, the study found that vaccination hesitancy itself can lead to an increase in conspiracy beliefs.

The study, conducted in the Netherlands and the United States, used a longitudinal approach to examine the temporal dynamics between conspiracy beliefs and vaccination intentions. The researchers found that participants who initially held stronger conspiracy beliefs were more likely to show a decrease in vaccination intentions over time, indicating that conspiracy beliefs can erode trust in medical advice. On the other hand, participants with lower vaccination intentions at the outset were more likely to adopt conspiracy theories as time went on, suggesting a rationalization process where individuals use conspiracy theories to justify their reluctance to vaccinate.

Interestingly, the findings from the United States differed somewhat from those observed in the Netherlands. In the U.S. study, participants with lower initial intentions to vaccinate were more likely to endorse stronger conspiracy beliefs in the subsequent wave. However, initial conspiracy beliefs did not significantly predict a decrease in vaccination intentions



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