Given that public health officials are alarming young people about rising coronavirus cases, new research suggests that Americans under the age of 25 are most likely to believe virus-related misinformation about the severity of the disease and how it develops.
In a survey of 21,196 people in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, the researchers identified a clear generation gap. Respondents 18-25 had an 18 percent chance of believing a false claim, compared with 9 percent for those 65 and over. This was found in a study conducted by researchers from Harvard University, Rutgers University, Northeastern University, and Northwestern University.
Findings differ from previous research that older people are more likely to post false news articles on social media. Last year, an article published in Science found that people over the age of 65 were seven times more likely than people aged 30 to 44, the youngest group in this survey, to share articles from websites that posted incorrect information during the 2016 presidential campaign Information was disseminated.
In the virus study, people were interviewed to assess their acceptance of 11 false claims. These included false claims that the virus came from people who ate bats, that taking antibiotics protects against the disease, and that only people aged 60 and over are at risk of infection.
"Across the 11 false claims," the report said, "we find a clear pattern: the older the age group, the lower the average belief in false claims."