Prevention is better than cure: Addressing anti-vaccine conspiracy theories
The current research tested if explicit anti-conspiracy arguments could be an effective method of addressing the potentially harmful effects of anti-vaccine conspiracy theories. In two studies, participants were presented with anti-conspiracy arguments either before, or after reading arguments in favor of popular conspiracy theories concerning vaccination. In both studies, anti-conspiracy arguments increased intentions to vaccinate a fictional child but only when presented prior to conspiracy theories. This effect was mediated by belief in anti-vaccine conspiracy theories and the perception that vaccines are dangerous. These findings suggest that people can be inoculated against the potentially harmful effects of anti-vaccine conspiracy theories, but that once they are established, the conspiracy theories may be difficult to correct.