The effects of anti-vaccine conspiracy theories on vaccination intentions

PLoS One. 2014 Feb 20;9(2):e89177. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0089177. eCollection 2014.


The current studies investigated the potential impact of anti-vaccine conspiracy beliefs, and exposure to anti-vaccine conspiracy theories, on vaccination intentions. In Study 1, British parents completed a questionnaire measuring beliefs in anti-vaccine conspiracy theories and the likelihood that they would have a fictitious child vaccinated. Results revealed a significant negative relationship between anti-vaccine conspiracy beliefs and vaccination intentions. This effect was mediated by the perceived dangers of vaccines, and feelings of powerlessness, disillusionment and mistrust in authorities. In Study 2, participants were exposed to information that either supported or refuted anti-vaccine conspiracy theories, or a control condition. Results revealed that participants who had been exposed to material supporting anti-vaccine conspiracy theories showed less intention to vaccinate than those in the anti-conspiracy condition or controls. This effect was mediated by the same variables as in Study 1. These findings point to the potentially detrimental consequences of anti-vaccine conspiracy theories, and highlight their potential role in shaping health-related behaviors.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Child, Preschool
  • Culture*
  • Female
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Humans
  • Intention*
  • Male
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Vaccination / psychology*
  • Vaccines*


  • Vaccines

Grant support

The authors have no support or funding to report.