Effects of Social Media Comments on Attitude toward Vaccines: The Roles of Perceived Public Consensus and Perceived Vaccine Efficacy.
Paper to be presented to Health Communication Division of the International Communication Association Annual Conference, Washington, D.C.
Abstract: Recognizing that social media has become an important place for individuals to acquire vaccine-related information, this study investigated if and how user-generated comments on social media platforms influence individuals’ perception of public consensus regarding and attitude toward vaccines. In addition, perceived vaccine efficacy was considered as a factor moderating the relationship between exposure to social media comments and perceived public consensus. The results of an experimental study showed that an opinion expressed by numerically dominant comments predicted participants’ attitude toward the flu vaccine through shaping perceived public consensus. Moreover, unlike participants with low and medium levels of perceived vaccine efficacy, those with high perceived vaccine efficacy were not influenced by comments when forming perceived public consensus.