Most of us think we use good judgement when we make decisions.
We research things, consider pros and cons, and put a lot of thought into our decisions.
Unfortunately, no matter how careful we are, subconscious cognitive bias can lead us to make mistakes.
Cognitive biases are defined as:
“mental errors caused by our simplified information processing strategies.”
Cognitive biases often make it difficult for vaccine hesitant parents to see through anti-vaccine myths and misinformation and lead them to fall for anti-vaccine talking points.
These cognitive biases include:
- confirmation bias
- blind spot bias
- survivorship bias
- selective perception
- backfire effect
- choice-supportive bias
- conjunction fallacy
- Dunning-Kruger effect
- hindsight bias
- illusory correlation
- ostrich effect
- pessimism bias
- semmelweis reflex
- false consensus effect
What’s behind these cognitive biases?
One explanation is cognitive dissonance:
“anxiety that results from simultaneously holding contradictory or otherwise incompatible attitudes, beliefs, or the like, as when one likes a person but disapproves strongly of one of his or her habits.”
So for example, if you are scared to vaccinate your child, then also thinking that your intentionally unvaccinated child could catch measles and get very sick might cause some cognitive dissonance. This leads you down the road to also start to believe in much of the pseudoscience of the anti-vaccine movement, including that:
- vaccines don’t work anyway (they do)
- vaccine-preventable diseases, like measles, aren’t that bad (they are)
- it is actually good to get a vaccine-preventable disease (it isn’t)
- everyone else is vaccinated, so it doesn’t matter if my kids aren’t (it does)
- bacteria and viruses don’t even cause disease (they do)
Vaccines work. Vaccines are necessary. Get your kids vaccinated.
What to Know About Cognitive Biases
As you get educated about vaccines, don’t let any of these cognitive biases get in your way.
More Information on Cognitive Biases:
- VAXOPEDIA – 10 Reasons You Aren’t Vaccinating Your Kids
- VAXOPEDIA – Anti-Vaccine Points Refuted A Thousand Times
- What Are Cognitive Biases?
- Logical Fallacies and Cognitive Dissonance
- Antivax 101: Tactics and Tropes of the Antivaccine Movement
- The 12 cognitive biases that prevent you from being rational
- 20 Cognitive Biases That Affect Your Decisions
- List of cognitive biases
- Confirmation bias – logical fallacies
- Lessons from Dunning-Kruger
- A Dunning-Kruger manifesto about vaccines and autism
- Why does Dr. Mercola sell supplements? Cognitive dissonance at its finest
- Genotypes, Serotypes and the MMR: Cognitive Dissonance in Action
- Motivated reasoning and the anti-vaccine movement
- “There must be a reason,” or how we support our own false beliefs
- My TEDx Oslo Transcript: Why Do Parents Fear Vaccines?
Updated on September 24, 2017