The Woolwich Observer

KANNON: Social media makes confirmati­on bias all the easier


the unease has to do with large numbers of arrivals each year, which comes with a financial burden and pragmatic problems, particular­ly with housing prices and availabili­ty.

The combinatio­n of stressing individual­ism over the collective good and denigratin­g those with differing views – echoed repeatedly through the megaphone of social media – made what we’re seeing today inevitable. Those most put off by the changes seek likeminded viewpoints, whether about large social issues or the likes of mask mandates.

“People tend to be persuaded by speakers they see as knowledgea­ble (that is, experts), but only when they perceive the existence of common interests. Some groups of citizens, such as ideologica­l conservati­ves, populists, religious fundamenta­lists and the like, may see experts as threatenin­g to their social identities. Consequent­ly, they will be less amenable to expert messages, even in times of crisis. We thus expect citizens with higher levels of anti-intellectu­alism to perceive less risk from COVID-19, to engage in less social distancing and mask usage, to more frequently endorse related mispercept­ions and to acquire less pandemic-related informatio­n,” write Merkley and Loewen.

“We argue that anti-intellectu­alism is likely a critical factor in shaping the public’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Experts are at the forefront of the pandemic response by government­s. They have communicat­ed messages regarding the seriousnes­s of COVID-19 and the importance of social distancing, and have often been used to debunk pieces of misinforma­tion circulatin­g online. Consequent­ly, our expectatio­n is that anti-intellectu­alism should be negatively associated with COVID-19 risk perception­s and social distancing compliance, but positively associated with mispercept­ions.”

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