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Countering messages by the anti-vaccine movement on social media


Countering messages by the anti-vaccine movement on social media

Health organisations like the WHO are worried about the decline in the willingness to vaccinate. They blame this decline on the impact of narratives and claims by so-called anti-vaccine activists. The WHO recognized that scientists are not that good in refuting the (ungrounded) arguments of the anti-vaccine movement and that the communication practice of health risk organisations and their communicators might benefit from some best practice advice. In 2016, this resulted in a report by the WHO with best practice advice on “how to respond to vocal vaccine deniers in public”.

 Research question

The report by the WHO focuses on public events such as interviews in the media. Given that social media channels like Facebook and Twitter might also be used by the anti-vaccine movement, the question is whether some of the advice would also be effective in countering the impact of anti-vaccine messages on social media.

This assignment relates to a research theme within the Department of Psychology of Conflict, Risk and Safety that focuses on risk perception and communication.

Research method

An online experiment seems to be the most obvious way to answer the research question.


The data of this study will be analysed by quantitative data analysis programmes such as SPSS or R.


World Health Organization (2017).  How to respond to vocal vaccine deniers in public: Best practice guidance. WHO, 2017.


Are you interested in this topic for your thesis? Please contact the BA-Thesis coordinator Jan Gutteling (