In a high-risk environment, such as during an epidemic, people are exposed to a large amount of information, both accurate and inaccurate. Following exposure, they typically discuss the information with each other. Here, we assess the effects of such conversations on beliefs. A sample of 126 M-Turk participants rated the accuracy of a set of COVID-19 statements, including accurate information, inaccurate information, and conspiracy theories (pre-test). They were then paired and asked to discuss these statements (low epistemic condition) or to discuss only the statements they thought were accurate (high epistemic condition). Finally, they rated the accuracy of the initial statements again (post-test). We do not find an effect of the epistemic condition on belief change. However, we find that individuals are sensitive to their conversational partners and change their beliefs according to their partners' conveyed beliefs. In exploratory analyses, we report predictors of believing COVID-19 conspiracies.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
- Developmental and Educational Psychology
- Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
- belief change
- conspiracy beliefs
- conversational interactions