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      Susceptibility to misinformation about COVID-19 around the world

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          Abstract

          Misinformation about COVID-19 is a major threat to public health. Using five national samples from the UK ( n = 1050 and n = 1150), Ireland ( n = 700), the USA ( n = 700), Spain ( n = 700) and Mexico ( n = 700), we examine predictors of belief in the most common statements about the virus that contain misinformation. We also investigate the prevalence of belief in COVID-19 misinformation across different countries and the role of belief in such misinformation in predicting relevant health behaviours. We find that while public belief in misinformation about COVID-19 is not particularly common, a substantial proportion views this type of misinformation as highly reliable in each country surveyed. In addition, a small group of participants find common factual information about the virus highly unreliable. We also find that increased susceptibility to misinformation negatively affects people's self-reported compliance with public health guidance about COVID-19, as well as people's willingness to get vaccinated against the virus and to recommend the vaccine to vulnerable friends and family. Across all countries surveyed, we find that higher trust in scientists and having higher numeracy skills were associated with lower susceptibility to coronavirus-related misinformation. Taken together, these results demonstrate a clear link between susceptibility to misinformation and both vaccine hesitancy and a reduced likelihood to comply with health guidance measures, and suggest that interventions which aim to improve critical thinking and trust in science may be a promising avenue for future research.

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          Evaluating Goodness-of-Fit Indexes for Testing Measurement Invariance

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            Using social and behavioural science to support COVID-19 pandemic response

            The COVID-19 pandemic represents a massive global health crisis. Because the crisis requires large-scale behaviour change and places significant psychological burdens on individuals, insights from the social and behavioural sciences can be used to help align human behaviour with the recommendations of epidemiologists and public health experts. Here we discuss evidence from a selection of research topics relevant to pandemics, including work on navigating threats, social and cultural influences on behaviour, science communication, moral decision-making, leadership, and stress and coping. In each section, we note the nature and quality of prior research, including uncertainty and unsettled issues. We identify several insights for effective response to the COVID-19 pandemic and highlight important gaps researchers should move quickly to fill in the coming weeks and months.
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              How to fight an infodemic

              WHO's newly launched platform aims to combat misinformation around COVID-19. John Zarocostas reports from Geneva. WHO is leading the effort to slow the spread of the 2019 coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak. But a global epidemic of misinformation—spreading rapidly through social media platforms and other outlets—poses a serious problem for public health. “We’re not just fighting an epidemic; we’re fighting an infodemic”, said WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus at the Munich Security Conference on Feb 15. Immediately after COVID-19 was declared a Public Health Emergency of International Concern, WHO's risk communication team launched a new information platform called WHO Information Network for Epidemics (EPI-WIN), with the aim of using a series of amplifiers to share tailored information with specific target groups. Sylvie Briand, director of Infectious Hazards Management at WHO's Health Emergencies Programme and architect of WHO's strategy to counter the infodemic risk, told The Lancet, “We know that every outbreak will be accompanied by a kind of tsunami of information, but also within this information you always have misinformation, rumours, etc. We know that even in the Middle Ages there was this phenomenon”. “But the difference now with social media is that this phenomenon is amplified, it goes faster and further, like the viruses that travel with people and go faster and further. So it is a new challenge, and the challenge is the [timing] because you need to be faster if you want to fill the void…What is at stake during an outbreak is making sure people will do the right thing to control the disease or to mitigate its impact. So it is not only information to make sure people are informed; it is also making sure people are informed to act appropriately.” About 20 staff and some consultants are involved in WHO's communications teams globally, at any given time. This includes social media personnel at each of WHO's six regional offices, risk communications consultants, and WHO communications officers. Aleksandra Kuzmanovic, social media manager with WHO's department of communications, told The Lancet that “fighting infodemics and misinformation is a joint effort between our technical risk communications [team] and colleagues who are working on the EPI-WIN platform, where they communicate with different…professionals providing them with advice and guidelines and also receiving information”. Kuzmanovic said, “In my role, I am in touch with Facebook, Twitter, Tencent, Pinterest, TikTok, and also my colleagues in the China office who are working closely with Chinese social media platforms…So when we see some questions or rumours spreading, we write it down, we go back to our risk communications colleagues and then they help us find evidence-based answers”. “Another thing we are doing with social media platforms, and that is something we are putting our strongest efforts in, is to ensure no matter where people live….when they’re on Facebook, Twitter, or Google, when they search for ‘coronavirus’ or ‘COVID-19’ or [a] related term, they have a box that…directs them to a reliable source: either to [the] WHO website to their ministry of health or public health institute or centre for disease control”, she said. Google, Kuzmanovic noted, has created an SOS Alert on COVID-19 for the six official UN languages, and is also expanding in some other languages. The idea is to make the first information that the public receive be from the WHO website and the social media accounts of WHO and Dr Tedros. WHO also uses social media for real-time updates. WHO is also working closely with UNICEF and other international agencies that have extensive experience in risk communications, such as the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies. Carlos Navarro, head of Public Health Emergencies at UNICEF, the children's agency, told The Lancet that while a lot of incorrect information is spreading through social media, a lot is also coming from traditional mass media. “Often, they pick the most extreme pictures they can find…There is overkill on the use of [personal protective equipment] and that tends to be the photos that are published everywhere, in all major newspapers and TV…that is, in fact, sending the wrong message”, Navarro said. David Heymann, professor of infectious disease epidemiology at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, told The Lancet that the traditional media has a key role in providing evidence-based information to the general public, which will then hopefully be picked up on social media. He also observed that for both social and conventional media, it is important that the public health community help the media to “better understand what they should be looking for, because the media sometimes gets ahead of the evidence”.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                R Soc Open Sci
                R Soc Open Sci
                RSOS
                royopensci
                Royal Society Open Science
                The Royal Society
                2054-5703
                October 2020
                14 October 2020
                14 October 2020
                : 7
                : 10
                : 201199
                Affiliations
                [1 ]Department of Psychology, University of Cambridge , Downing St., CB2 3EB Cambridge, UK
                [2 ]Section of Slavonic Studies, University of Cambridge , Sidgwick Avenue, CB3 9DA Cambridge, UK
                [3 ]Winton Centre for Risk and Evidence Communication, University of Cambridge , Wilberforce Road, CB3 0WA Cambridge, UK
                [4 ]Department of Psychology, University of Groningen , Grote Kruisstraat 2/1, 9712 TS Groningen, The Netherlands
                Author notes
                Author for correspondence: Sander van der Linden e-mail: sander.vanderlinden@ 123456psychol.cam.ac.uk

                Electronic supplementary material is available online at https://doi.org/10.6084/m9.figshare.c.5170488.

                Author information
                http://orcid.org/0000-0002-8150-9305
                http://orcid.org/0000-0002-6612-5186
                http://orcid.org/0000-0002-7772-8492
                http://orcid.org/0000-0002-6606-5507
                http://orcid.org/0000-0002-4115-161X
                http://orcid.org/0000-0002-0210-8635
                Article
                rsos201199
                10.1098/rsos.201199
                7657933
                33204475
                63409609-b5d2-4bd9-8ae1-ef64a78e9dbc
                © 2020 The Authors.

                Published by the Royal Society under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/, which permits unrestricted use, provided the original author and source are credited.

                History
                : 6 July 2020
                : 2 October 2020
                Funding
                Funded by: Science Foundation Ireland, http://dx.doi.org/10.13039/501100001602;
                Funded by: David & Claudia Harding Foundation;
                Categories
                1001
                205
                14
                Psychology and Cognitive Neuroscience
                Research Article
                Custom metadata
                October, 2020

                covid-19,misinformation,fake news,vaccine hesitancy
                covid-19, misinformation, fake news, vaccine hesitancy

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