Note: The headline isn't as kooky as this report below. Thanks Nancy H for sending it us to share. This study says that the push to "educate" us into believing vaccines are as magical as fairy dust, as safe as a mother's hug and as necessary as air via "intervention programs" is a failure. Well, lah de dah. Imagine that. Bullying fails. We believe what we see with our own two eyes. The study says that we tend to believe "conspiracy theories." You can't color me and most of my colleagues with this broad "conspiracy nut" brush. The more injured kids, teens and adults, the more the bubble is bursting on the Vaccines Are God industry. Do I like this? Not really. It would be very nice if vaccines could safely protect from disease with ZERO harm. So would finding the Giant Pink Sea Snail with Dr. Dolittle. For the record:
I believe the earth is a sphere. I believe we landed on the moon. I believe that 26 beautiful children and adults were slaughtered 15 miles up the street from me in Sandy Hook, CT. I believe that Mike Nesmith's mother created White Out. OK? KR
The 'Attitude Roots' Underlying Antivaccination Beliefs
"Many intervention programs work from a deficit model of science communication, presuming that vaccination skeptics lack the ability to access or understand evidence," as explained in a new study published in Health Psychology.3 "However, interventions focusing on evidence and the debunking of vaccine-related myths have proven to be either nonproductive or counterproductive."
Emerging evidence suggests that targeting the underlying bases, the "attitude roots," of these beliefs may prove more effective than information-based strategies.4,5 To that end, the current authors aimed to determine links between antivaccination attitudes and 4 specific attitude roots:
- Willingness to endorse conspiratorial beliefs
- Disgust sensitivity toward blood and needles
- Reactance (in response to perceived threats to one's autonomy or freedom)
- Individualism-hierarchy worldviews (in contrast to communitarianism/egalitarianism)
The researchers used a data collection company to survey 5323 people (49.9% women) in 24 countries, using various scales to assess these measures.
Analyses revealed that the strongest antivaccination attitudes were found among participants with higher levels of conspiratorial beliefs (correlation coefficient [r], 0.334; P <.001), reactance (r, 0.235; P <.001), and disgust sensitivity (r, 0.201; P <.001). Although individualistic/hierarchical worldview was also associated with stronger antivaccination beliefs, the effect size was small (r, 0.186, P <.001). In addition, education and sex were not significantly linked to vaccination attitudes, whereas younger participants and more conservative participants had stronger antivaccination attitudes.
From a motivated reasoning perspective, the "goal of science communication is to align with people's underlying fears, ideologies and identities, thus reducing people's motivation to reject the science," the authors wrote. "If the motivation to reject the science is reduced, then people should become more willing to embrace the evidence on its merits."
To further explore these findings and their implications, Infectious Disease Advisor interviewed lead author Mathew J. Hornsey, PhD, a social psychology professor at the University of Queensland in Australia, and Nina Shapiro, MD, director of pediatric otolaryngology and professor of head and neck surgery at the David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles, and author of the book, Hype: A Doctor's Guide to Medical Myths, Exaggerated Claims and Bad Advice.
Infectious Disease Advisor:What are the top takeaways from this study?
Mathew J. Hornsey, PhD: Of all the psychological variables that we measured, far and away the biggest predictor of people's antivaccination attitudes was their willingness to believe conspiracy theories. For example, the more people believed that Princess Diana was murdered or that 9/11 was an inside job, the more negative they were about vaccinations. Some people have a conspiratorial worldview: they think it's common for groups of people with malevolent agendas to get together and conduct elaborate hoaxes on the public in near-perfect secrecy. If you believe this is the way the world works, you're willing to entertain any conspiracy theory, including ones that suggest that Big Pharma is covering up the negative health effects of vaccinations.
Nina Shapiro, MD: The top takeaway from this study is that, contrary to what many clinicians have believed is the best method of dispelling antivaccination myths (eg, providing families with sound data and evidence that vaccines are safe and effective), this is actually, quite surprisingly, a poor method of dispelling concerns and may indeed make people more reluctant to proceed with immunization. This information is completely different from what many practitioners have been using for vaccine-resistant or hesitant families. Read more here.