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COVID-19 (mis)information exposure and messaging effects in the United Kingdom
University of Exeter
Key Focus of Study
This project will examine four specific research questions about Covid-19 information and beliefs. 1. How (mis)informed is the public about the Covid-19 pandemic? 2. In this time of crisis, are people making sense of the world through widespread adoption of conspiracy theories? 3. What is the quality of Covid-19-related information on the internet that is actually consumed by people? 4. Can inaccurate information and conspiracy thinking be effectively countered by informational interventions? Each component of the project will seek to increase our scientific understanding of information consumption and belief updating about science, health, and other controversial subjects while also generating practical, real-world recommendations that will help policymakers, journalists, and science communicators to design policies and deliver information that will help stop the pandemic. By combining a multi-wave survey experiment with a large enough sample to examine highly affected areas (e.g., West Midlands) and behavioural exposure data, this study will provide the most systematic measurement to date of (1) the accuracy of the Covid-related beliefs about public health and public policy; (2) the prevalence of health and policy misconceptions related to Covid-19 and the correlates of those misconceptions; (3) the prevalence of exposure to both highquality and untrustworthy information about Covid-19, including the most important sources of (mis)information and the correlates of consumption of both types of information; and (4) the effectiveness of corrective information in combating Covid-related misconceptions.
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