How Shades of Truth and Age Affect Responses to COVID-19 (Mis)information: Randomized Survey Experiment among WhatsApp Users in UK and Brazil

Humanities and Social Sciences Communications.

Abstract: We examined how age and exposure to different types of COVID-19 (mis)information affect misinformation beliefs, perceived credibility of the message and intention-to-share it on WhatsApp. Through two mixed-design online experiments in the UK and Brazil (total N = 1,454) we first randomly exposed adult WhatsApp users to full misinformation, partial misinformation, or full truth about the therapeutic powers of garlic to cure COVID-19. We then exposed all participants to corrective information from the World Health Organization debunking this claim. We found stronger misinformation beliefs among younger adults (18-54) in both UK and Brazil and possible backfire effects of corrective information among older adults (55+) in the UK. Corrective information from the WHO was effective in enhancing perceived credibility and intention-to-share of accurate information across all groups in both countries. Our findings call for evidence-based infodemic interventions by health agencies, with greater engagement of younger adults in pandemic misinformation management efforts.

Yan Jin  Xuerong Lu 

Related Research


Exploring the Role of Social Support in Promoting Patient Participation in Health Care among Women with Breast Cancer

Abstract: Scholars have adopted Street’s (2003) ecological model of communication in medical encounters to investigate the factors promoting patient participation in health care. However, factors demonstrated in the ecological model were bounded in the context of medical care primarily focusing on health care providers and patients. Social factors, such as patients’ relationships and supportive communication […]

Jeong-Yeob Han
read more
Effects of Facebook Comments on Attitude Toward Vaccines: The Roles of Perceived Distributions of Public Opinion and Perceived Vaccine Efficacy

Abstract: This study investigated if and how exposure to Facebook comments about vaccines influences one’s attitude toward the vaccines. In this investigation, comments were examined in light of their effect on attitude toward vaccines through perceived distribution of public opinion on vaccines, and perceived vaccine efficacy was tested as a factor moderating relative effects of […]

Hanyoung KimJeong-Yeob HanYoungji Seo
read more