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J Health Psychol. 2010 Apr;15(3):446-55. doi: 10.1177/1359105309353647.

The influence of vaccine-critical websites on perceiving vaccination risks.

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  • 1Center for Empirical Research in Economics andBehavioral Sciences (CEREB), University of Erfurt, Nordhaeuser Strasse 63, D-99089 Erfurt, Germany.


This large-scale Internet-experiment tests whether vaccine-critical pages raise perceptions of the riskiness of vaccinations and alter vaccination intentions. We manipulated the information environment (vaccine-critical website, control, both) and the focus of search (on vaccination risks, omission risks, no focus). Our analyses reveal that accessing vaccine-critical websites for five to 10 minutes increases the perception of risk of vaccinating and decreases the perception of risk of omitting vaccinations as well as the intentions to vaccinate. In line with the 'risk-as-feelings' approach, the affect elicited by the vaccine-critical websites was positively related to changes in risk perception.

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