Public perceptions of conflicting information surrounding COVID-19: Results from a nationally representative survey of U.S. adults

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

Abstract

Conflicting information surrounding COVID-19 abounds, from disagreement over the effectiveness of face masks in preventing viral transmission to competing claims about the promise of certain treatments. Despite the potential for conflicting information about COVID-19 to produce adverse public health effects, little is known about whether the U.S. public notices this information, and whether certain population subgroups are particularly likely to do so. To address these questions, we fielded a nationally representative survey of U.S. adults in late April 2020 (N = 1,007). Results showed substantial self-reported exposure to conflicting information about COVID-19, with nearly 75% of participants reporting having recently heard such information from health experts, politicians, and/or others. Participants perceived disagreement across a range of COVID-19-related issues, though from politicians more than health experts. Factors including political affiliation, information source use, and personal experience with COVID-19 were associated with perceptions of disagreement. Future research should consider potential cognitive and behavioral consequences of such perceptions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere0240776
JournalPloS one
Volume15
Issue number10 October
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 2020

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