Ángel V. Jiménez
No Evidence that Omission and Confirmation Biases Affect the Perception and Recall of Vaccine-related Information
Jiménez, Ángel V.; Mesoudi, Alex; Tehrani, Jamshid J.
Professor Jamshid Tehrani firstname.lastname@example.org
Head Of Department
Despite the spectacular success of vaccines in preventing infectious diseases, fears about their safety and other anti-vaccination claims are widespread. To better understand how such fears and claims persist and spread, we must understand how they are perceived and recalled. One influence on the perception and recall of vaccination-related information might be universal cognitive biases acting against vaccination. An omission bias describes the tendency to perceive as worse, and recall better, bad outcomes resulting from commissions (e.g. vaccine side effects) compared to the same bad outcomes resulting from omissions (e.g. symptoms of vaccine preventable diseases). Another factor influencing the perception and recall of vaccination-related information might be people’s attitudes towards vaccines. A confirmation bias would mean that pre-existing pro-vaccination attitudes positively predict perceptions of severity and recall of symptoms of vaccine preventable diseases and negatively predict perceptions of severity and recall of vaccine side effects. To test for these hypothesized biases, 202 female participants aged 18–60 (M = 38.15, SD = 10.37) completed an online experiment with a between-subjects experimental design. Participants imagined that they had a 1-year old child who suffered from either vaccine side effects (Commission Condition) or symptoms of a vaccine-preventable disease (Omission Condition). They then rated a list of symptoms/side effects for their perceived severity on a 7-point Likert scale. Finally, they completed a surprise recall test in which they recalled the symptoms/side effects previously rated. An additional scale was used to measure their attitudes towards vaccines. Contrary to the hypotheses, perceptions of severity and the recall of symptoms/side effects were not associated with experimental condition, failing to support the omission bias, nor did they interact with attitudes towards vaccines, failing to support the confirmation bias. This cast doubt on the possibility that the spread of anti-vaccination claims can be explained by these particular universal cognitive biases.
Jiménez, Á. V., Mesoudi, A., & Tehrani, J. J. (2020). No Evidence that Omission and Confirmation Biases Affect the Perception and Recall of Vaccine-related Information. PLoS ONE, 15(3), Article e0228898. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0228898
|Journal Article Type||Article|
|Acceptance Date||Feb 24, 2020|
|Online Publication Date||Mar 4, 2020|
|Deposit Date||Feb 25, 2020|
|Publicly Available Date||Mar 13, 2020|
|Publisher||Public Library of Science|
|Peer Reviewed||Peer Reviewed|
|Related Public URLs||https://psyarxiv.com/uqdn6/|
Published Journal Article
Publisher Licence URL
Copyright: © 2020 Jime´nez et al. This is an open<br /> access article distributed under the terms of the<br /> Creative Commons Attribution License, which<br /> permits unrestricted use, distribution, and<br /> reproduction in any medium, provided the original<br /> author and source are credited.
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