Misinformation is Distorting COVID Policies, Behaviors

Misinformation is Distorting COVID Policies, Behaviors
(Christophe Archambault/Pool Photo via AP)
The COVID-19 pandemic has been far reaching in its effects, but knowledge of key facts about the virus and related perceptions of risk associated with it are far from uniform. The varied perception of the facts is caused, at least in part, by varied exposure to relevant information. Using monthly data from 35,000 U.S. adults who responded to the Franklin Templeton-Gallup Economics of Recovery Study, we document significant variation in the understanding of COVID-related facts and concomitant behaviors. In a random controlled experiment that exposes people to different pieces of information, we observe large differences in the likelihood of buying away-from-home services, acceptance of the COVID-19 vaccine, and policy preferences regarding the closing of schools and restaurants.
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