Posts in Category: 2018–2019

Paper: The echo in flu-vaccination echo chambers


Helge Giese, Hansjörg Neth, Mehdi Moussaïd, Cornelia Betsch, Wolfgang Gaissmaier

The echo in flu-vaccination echo chambers: Selective attention trumps social influence

Immune to influence


Online discussions may impact the willingness to get vaccinated. This experiment tests how groups of individuals with consistent and inconsistent attitudes towards flu vaccination attend to and convey information online, and how they alter their corresponding risk perceptions.

Out of 1859 MTurkers, we pre-selected 208 people with negative and 221 people with positive attitudes towards flu vaccinations into homogeneous or heterogeneous 3-link experimental diffusion chains. We assessed (i) which information about flu vaccinations participants conveyed to the subsequent link, (ii) how flu-vaccination related perceptions were altered by incoming messages, and (iii) how participants perceived incoming information.

Participants (i) selectively conveyed attitude-consistent information, but exhibited no overall anti-vaccination bias, (ii) were reluctant to alter their flu-vaccination related perceptions in response to messages, and (iii) evaluated incoming information consistent with their prior attitudes as more convincing.

Flu-vaccination related perceptions are resilient against contradictions and bias online communication. Contrary to expectations, there was no sign of amplification of anti-vaccine attitudes by online communication.

Keywords: Amplification of risk; Diffusion chain; Opinion dynamics; Vaccine hesitancy; Social media; Polarization

Press release

Reference:  Giese, H., Neth, H., Moussaïd, M., Betsch, C., & Gaissmaier, W. (2020).  The echo in flu-vaccination echo chambers: Selective attention trumps social influence.  Vaccine, 38 (8), 2070–2076.   doi: 10.1016/j.vaccine.2019.11.038

Related:  Social influence and collective opinion formation

Resources:  Download_PDFGoogle Scholar

riskyr: A toolbox for rendering risk literacy more transparent

Solving a problem simply means representing it
so as to make the solution transparent.

Simon, H.A. (1996). The Sciences of the Artificial

Hansjörg Neth, Felix Gaisbauer, Nico Gradwohl, Wolfgang Gaissmaier

riskyr: A toolbox for rendering risk literacy more transparent

Abstract:  Risk-related information — like the prevalence of conditions and the sensitivity and specificity of diagnostic tests or treatment decisions — can be expressed in terms of probabilities or frequencies. By providing a toolbox of methods and metrics, the R package riskyr computes, translates, and displays risk-related information in a variety of ways. Offering multiple complementary perspectives on the interplay between key parameters renders teaching and training of risk literacy more transparent.