Media consumption and misperceptions about COVID-19 among US populations at high risk for serious health problems early in the pandemic

This article was originally published here

Common Health. 2022 Jan 20:1-10. doi: 10.1080/10410236.2021.2023381. Online ahead of print.


Research indicates that misperceptions that are part of people’s initial mental models about a problem tend to persist and influence their attitudes even after the misperception has been corrected. Recent work on changing mental models suggests that communication efforts about the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and its consequences can be improved by crafting messages that acknowledge biases and misunderstandings about the virus and other diseases. infections that may persist among members of the target audience. This study was designed to provide insight into these biases by: (1) establishing important categories of COVID-related misperceptions during the early months of the pandemic in the United States among (a) the general population and (b) demographic subpopulations at high risk of serious health problems; (2) identify demographic predictors of misperceptions; and (3) examine the relationship between consumption of different television news outlets and agreement with misperceptions about COVID-19. A national sample of 1,000 adults in the United States (48.1% male; M age = 47.32, South Dakota = 18.01; 72.9% White/Caucasian, 14.3% Black/African American, 15.9% Hispanic/Latinx) completed a survey between March 19 and March 25, 2020. Results identify predominant classes of misperceptions early outbreaks of COVID-19. Adjusting for many covariates, the data indicated that people over age 60 had the fewest COVID-related misperceptions among various demographic subpopulations, misperceptions were most prevalent among black respondents, and increased consumption of COVID-19. news from television networks was associated with lower levels of misperception. Consumption of certain 24-hour news networks (FOX and MSNBC) was a significant positive correlate of misperceptions.

PMID:35057677 | DO I:10.1080/10410236.2021.2023381