HomeLifestyleSocial NetworksMost Methods to Reduce Conspiracy Beliefs Are Ineffective, But This One Stands...

Most Methods to Reduce Conspiracy Beliefs Are Ineffective, But This One Stands Out

Published on

New Review Suggests Ways to Counteract Conspiracy Beliefs

When it comes to countering the beliefs of conspiracy theorists, it has been found that most conventional methods are ineffective, though some may still be useful.

According to a systematic review, typical counterarguments are not effective, but alternative approaches that encourage critical thinking and an analytical mindset may be more successful.

In an open-access article published on April 5 in the journal PLOS ONE, Cian O’Mahony and colleagues from University College Cork in Ireland present the results of a new review of previously published studies on methods for reducing belief in conspiracy theories. The review found that most of the methods studied are ineffective, but those that focus on fostering critical thinking or an analytical mindset show some promise.

Previous research has shown that belief in conspiracy theories can have negative consequences, such as reduced adherence to public health recommendations during the COVID-19 pandemic. In response, behavioral researchers have been investigating ways to reduce belief in conspiracy theories. However, until now, no study had comprehensively reviewed existing evidence for the effectiveness of different approaches.

To evaluate the effectiveness of different approaches for reducing belief in conspiracy theories, O’Mahony and his team conducted a systematic review of 25 previously published studies that involved 7,179 participants. The studies employed various methods, such as counterarguments against conspiracy theories and priming participants to adopt a more analytical mindset before assessing their beliefs.

The review of the 25 studies found that only half of the methods used were associated with any change in participants’ conspiracy beliefs, and only a few produced meaningful changes. This indicates that most existing methods for reducing belief in conspiracy theories are not effective. Notably, interventions that were presented to participants before exposure to conspiracy theories were more effective than those presented after exposure.

The most effective methods were those that focused on exposing the factual inaccuracies of conspiracy beliefs before presenting participants with conspiracy theories. Another relatively effective approach was a three-month educational course that taught participants how to distinguish between scientific and pseudoscientific practices. In contrast, traditional counterarguments against conspiracy theories were among the least effective methods.

Based on their findings, the researchers recommend that future efforts to counter belief in conspiracy theories should prioritize fostering critical thinking and an analytical mindset, as well as reaching people before they encounter conspiracy theories. They also identify several challenges that must be addressed in future research, such as determining the real-world effectiveness of different methods beyond a controlled study setting.

“One of the most important findings of our review,” according to the authors, “is that traditional fact-checking and counterarguments are the least effective means of combating conspiracy beliefs.

“We found that preventative measures, such as exposing participants to counterarguments before they encountered misinformation, were the most effective strategies to challenge conspiracy beliefs.

“We also found that most interventions would be difficult to implement in real-world settings, which is why we are developing a more viable intervention funded by the Irish Research Council’s Enterprise Partnership with Google in the form of a video game.”

Source: 10.1371/journal.pone.0280902

Image Credit: Karwai Tang/WireImage via Getty

Latest articles

Does This Mean We Stopped Being Animal and Started Being Human Due to ‘Copy Paste’ Errors?

A Surprise Finding About Ancestral Genes In Animals Could Make You Rethink The Roles...

The One Lifestyle Choice That Could Reduce Your Heart Disease Risk By More Than 22%

New Research Reveals How To Reduce Stress-related Brain Activity And Improve Heart Health Recent studies...

Aging: This Is What Happens Inside Your Body Right After Exercise

The concept of reversing aging, once relegated to the realm of science fiction, has...

Immune-Boosting Drink that Mimics Fasting to Reduce Fat – Scientists ‘Were Surprised’ By New Findings

It triggers a 'fasting-like' state In a recent study, scientists discovered that the microbes found in...

More like this

Does This Mean We Stopped Being Animal and Started Being Human Due to ‘Copy Paste’ Errors?

A Surprise Finding About Ancestral Genes In Animals Could Make You Rethink The Roles...

The One Lifestyle Choice That Could Reduce Your Heart Disease Risk By More Than 22%

New Research Reveals How To Reduce Stress-related Brain Activity And Improve Heart Health Recent studies...

Aging: This Is What Happens Inside Your Body Right After Exercise

The concept of reversing aging, once relegated to the realm of science fiction, has...