Vaccines, climate change … all are complex issues that, however, must be clarified through the scientific literature .
However, according to the study The Politicization of Health and Science: Role of Political Cues in Shaping the Beliefs of the Vaccine-Autism Link , by S. Mo Jones-Jang and Chris Noland, political opinion would be the source of this clarification for a part of the electorate.
Donald Trump and vaccines
Ordinary people have neither the ability nor the motivations to assess health risks on their own. Therefore, we are obliged to trust the experts. The problem is that we often assume that our political leaders are always correct and accurate.
When it comes to the false claim that vaccines cause autism, Republicans tend to be swayed more by Donald Trump than scientists, according to the aforementioned study.
The study asked 648 participants to carefully read an article about the controversy between vaccines and autism . Participants were randomly assigned to read one of four different versions of the article: one citing Donald Trump claiming there was no link between the vaccine and autism, one by a scientist claiming there was no link between the vaccine and the autism, and two others just in the opposite direction, also with Trump and a scientist, that is to say, that there was a link between vaccines and autism.
The researchers found that Democratic and independent participants tended to align their beliefs about vaccines with the opinion of the scientist, regardless of whether the scientist was for or against the vaccines, but were not influenced by Trump’s opinion. Among Republican participants, on the other hand, Trump’s opinion had a greater impact than the scientist’s opinion .
The key finding is that political leaders easily influence supporters on any issue, including beliefs about vaccines, although the opinions of political leaders are not necessarily accurate or scientific.