The Chronicle

Trait shared by Covid conspiracy theorists


NEW research has revealed which Australian­s are most likely to believe and share misinforma­tion about Covid-19.

People who rely on their first instincts to make judgments are more likely to believe and share misinforma­tion about the virus, according to a new study by the Australian National University.

“Participan­ts with higher analytic thinking levels were less likely to perceive misinforma­tion about Covid-19 to be accurate,” researcher­s concluded.

The study analysed 742 Australian­s and compared intuitive thinkers – those who make decisions on immediate instinct, with reflective thinkers – those who are more likely to pause and reflect on the accuracy of informatio­n shown to them.

Lead author of the study, ANU PhD researcher Matthew Nurse, said people who were shown to rely more on their first gut instinct in the study’s thinking style test were significan­tly worse at discerning between accurate statements and misinforma­tion.

“Encouragin­g people to think twice before sharing might slow down the spread of false claims,” Mr Nurse said.

“Simply reminding people to take their time and think through dodgy claims could help people reject misinforma­tion and hopefully prevent them from following ineffectiv­e or dangerous advice.”

Mr Nurse lamented Covid-19 misinforma­tion was a dangerous and widespread problem.

“Viral misinforma­tion about Covid-19 has spread just like the virus itself,” he said.

Shockingly, almost half of the study’s participan­ts believed at least one of the pieces of misinforma­tion presented to them by the researcher­s.

Of those who believed the misinforma­tion, 43.9 per cent reported they were willing to share the false claims.

A number of prominent theories and conspiraci­es about Covid-19 exist in Australia that have been widely debunked by scientists.

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