The Anti-Vaccination Debate: A Cross-Cultural Exploration of Emotions and Epistemic Cognition

  • Ayano Tsuda McGill University
  • Krista Renee Muis McGill University
Keywords: emotion, epistemic cognition, anti-vaccines, pro-vaccines, cross-cultural comparison

Abstract

Do vaccines cause autism? Answers to this question have become hotly debated since Web 2.0, where self-authored content continues to grow. If individuals do not have the skills to judge the veracity of information, this can have negative health consequences. Equally troubling is the negative emotions that arise due to the content on vaccination websites, which can be detrimental for learning . We examined source and justification strategies authors used in vaccine websites from USA, Canada, Japan and Chile, and the epistemic strategies and emotions individuals used or expressed while reacting to website content. Analyses revealed that pro-vaccination websites justified claims using quotes from experts. In contrast, anti-vaccination websites relied on sources from personal experience. Results also indicated that anger was prominent in websites that included a balanced or pro-vaccine view, which was consistent across cultures. These results provide insight into the importance of emotions in learning about controversial topics, and shed light into possible cultural differences in formatting arguments. Results may be used to develop interventions designed to change misconceptions about controversial topics that are emotionally driven.

Author Biography

Krista Renee Muis, McGill University
Dr. Krista R. Muis is a Canada Research Chair in epistemic cognition and self-regualted learning. Her research interests are in the areas of epistemic cognition, emotion, self-regulated learning and achievement motivation in the context of mathematics and science learning. She is interested in how students’ epistemic cognition and emotions influence various facets of learning, motivation, and academic performance. She also explores how individuals process complex, contradictory content on socio-scientific issues such as climate change, genetically modified foods, and vaccinations. She examines what role misconceptions play when learning about these topics, and how beliefs and emotions facilitate or constrain learning under these conditions. Her research is conducted in the lab as well as in classroom contexts with students ranging from kindergarten to adult learners.

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Published
2018-10-01
How to Cite
Tsuda, A., & Muis, K. R. (2018). The Anti-Vaccination Debate: A Cross-Cultural Exploration of Emotions and Epistemic Cognition. Advances in Social Sciences Research Journal, 5(9). https://doi.org/10.14738/assrj.59.5215