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Towards psychological herd immunity: Cross-cultural evidence for two prebunking interventions against COVID-19 misinformation

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jats:pMisinformation about the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) is a pressing societal challenge. Across two studies, one preregistered ( njats:sub1</jats:sub> = 1771 and njats:sub2</jats:sub> = 1777), we assess the efficacy of two ‘prebunking’ interventions aimed at improving people’s ability to spot manipulation techniques commonly used in COVID-19 misinformation across three different languages (English, French and German). We find that Go Viral!, a novel five-minute browser game, (a) increases the perceived manipulativeness of misinformation about COVID-19, (b) improves people’s attitudinal certainty (confidence) in their ability to spot misinformation and (c) reduces self-reported willingness to share misinformation with others. The first two effects remain significant for at least one week after gameplay. We also find that reading real-world infographics from UNESCO improves people’s ability and confidence in spotting COVID-19 misinformation (albeit with descriptively smaller effect sizes than the game). Limitations and implications for fake news interventions are discussed.</jats:p>


Funder: Cabinet Office, Government of the United Kingdom


Fake news, misinformation, inoculation theory, prebunking, COVID-19, gamification

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Big Data and Society

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SAGE Publications
ESRC (ES/V011960/1)