Health
Project
December 13, 2020

Reducing biased information processing to increase compliance with measures recommended by the NHS for the prevention of Covid-19

The Nova SBE Behavioral Lab explored how a cognitive bias - called confirmation bias - affects people's decision to follow the SNS recommendations regarding the prevention of COVID-19 and teste da simple and economical intervention to improve the compliance rate. Confirmation bias tends to look for information to support pre-existing opinions and ignore or minimize the importance of contrary information leading to decision-making errors, including in health-related decisions. For example, there is a skewed selection of data on vaccinations, which contributes to the decision against them). Confirmation bias is a critical issue in the current context, since information of varying quality reaches people through different channels. A biased selection of information can cause the execution of minor preventive measures or wrong measures.

This research aims to test an intervention, previously validated, that reduces the confirmation bias. The intervention, made through a short video, has already shown good results in the laboratory, with positive effects, in the short and long term, on the quality of decision making. However, it has never been tested in a concrete crisis situation. It is expected that, if there is no stimulation to the selection of information related to COVID-19, the autonomous implementation of the correct prevention measures will improve. Data analysis is still ongoing and the final results will be announced in December. The initial exploratory results indicate that the intervention successfully reduces the confirmation bias and impacts the type and quality of the sources that people consult to stay informed about the pandemic. For example, biased people were also the most likely to consult official health sources later.

We are preparing a follow-up study focusing specifically on masks' use, since the adoption of this measure is essential although there are still those who are still opposed to it. We want to further test whether carrying out a similar bias removal intervention among people who oppose using masks would encourage them to spontaneously consult better sources and be more in favor or not of using them.

Link: https://www2.novasbe.unl.pt/en/community/labs-hubs/behavioral-lab/overview

Nova SBE Behavioral Lab

The research team for this project includes the co-director of the Nova SBE Behavioral Lab, Irene Consiglio (Nova SBE), the consumer behavior researcher, Dr. Sofia Kousi (Nova SBE), and Dr. Anne-Laure Sellier (HEC), who is a specialist in cognitive biases.

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