Vaccine misinformation vs debiasing efforts : understanding the psychological tools applied to vaccine misinformation and applying them to vaccine debiasing efforts

Measom, Michael Ty
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Efforts by anti-vaccination movements date back to the conception of life-saving vaccines and have found considerable success in the US and Europe despite the overwhelming scientific data proving the safety and efficacy of vaccines. An analysis of vaccine misinformation reveals a plethora of psychological strategies employed by misinformers to help the false information become durable components in learners’ knowledge schemas about vaccines. While Conceptual Change researchers have proposed various models of conceptual change, including Posner et al.’s Conceptual Change Model, to aid educators in correcting misconceptions, these models have fallen short in correcting vaccine misinformation. This is partially due to several shortcomings in the models which have recently been addressed in Kendeou et al.’s Knowledge Revision Components Framework, which stresses the importance of strengthening the activation potential of correct information once the education intervention has occurred. In this report we suggest how the same strategies employed by anti-vaccination movements can be employed by educators through refutation texts to ensure correct information about vaccines can outcompete vaccine misinformation for activation.