The fact that fake news spreads so easily is not just due to allegations Attractive Or good news is not news. Researchers from Radboud University. “It turns out that you simply remember phrases in which something happens better than phrases in which something does not happen.”
During the early days of the coronavirus pandemic, there were one bizarre claim after another about vaccines, as researcher Lisa Vandeberg remembers well. Although there is no scientific evidence for claims such as that vaccination will make you magnetic, these types of stories have continued to spread. So VandeBerg and his colleagues wondered where this fear of side effects or doubt about the effectiveness and safety of vaccines comes from. Why did such stories remain stuck in people's memories? They now believe that vaccination communication played an important role in this.
To investigate this, the researchers asked 350 participants to read different fictional titles, each of which made a claim about a fictional virus. In half the situations there was a present event – such as 'Vaccine against the blue virus Promotes Feeling safe among recipients'or'New study Confirms The relationship between the blue virus vaccine and high temperature'. In the other half, events were absent – such as 'Vaccine against the blue virus Obstacles Feeling safe among recipients' And 'New study I was exposed The relationship between the blue virus vaccine and high temperature.'
“Framing the presence”
What happened? People remember messages in which something happened better than those in which nothing happened. They also weighed these headlines more when evaluating the vaccine. This is regardless of whether that message contains positive or negative news. Researchers explain this by the so-called The advantage of positive influence: A psychological phenomenon in which people process information about present events more easily and find it more important than information about absent events. While the absence of disease after vaccination already indicates the good functioning of the vaccine.
According to VandeBerg, this is important knowledge for future reporting on these types of topics. According to the researchers, in light of the Corona pandemic, there is too much focus on so-called “absence framing,” which focuses on what does not happen. Such as vaccinations ensure that you do not get sick, do not lead to the spread of epidemics, and do not cause deaths. While you can also say that vaccinations protect your health, boost herd immunity and save lives. The researchers believe that presence framing – where you focus on what is happening – is likely to persist, and could influence people's attitude and behavior towards vaccination.
Although the media, in their formulations, influence how readers and viewers process information and take it into account in their judgments, researchers believe this is only one side of the coin. They believe that current events will not only be better remembered, but will also be increasingly shared. These messages are therefore over-represented in news presentation. VandeBerg: “For example, I've seen a few messages from people with a syringe in their arm saying ‘I don't feel bad' or ‘I don't have a fever.’ But we need to investigate this further.”
For now, VandeBerg is focused on how to use better formulations in vaccination communication: “So focus on what happens as a result of vaccination (for example, helping your health), rather than what doesn't happen (no disease).”
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