43% citizens believe in a conspiracy theory regarding the concealment of information about vaccines
The share of citizens who believe that information on the harmful effects of vaccines is being deliberately concealed from the public is highest in South Africa (57%) and lowest in Denmark (14%)
PODGORICA, 18 JULY 2021 – Four out of 10 of Montenegro’s citizens (43%) believe in a global conspiracy that damage caused by the vaccine is being concealed so that pharmaceutical companies can continue making profits around the world. This is one of the findings from research conducted by Ipsos research agency in March this year on a nationally representative sample, with the support of the UK Embassy in Podgorica and UNICEF.
The share of citizens who believe that information on the harmful effects of vaccines is deliberately being concealed from the public is highest in South Africa (57%) and Nigeria (55%), and lowest in Denmark (14%), the United Kingdom (19%) and Australia (20%). These are the findings from international research that was conducted in the 25 largest countries in the world in August 2020, with the support of the University of Cambridge in the UK. When it comes to EU members, the countries with the highest share of the population believing in this conspiracy theory are Greece (39%) and France (38%), while in the US one-third of respondents (33%) believe in it.
When it comes to Montenegro, this conspiracy theory is more often believed by those with primary education or lower and by those who do not trust science, healthcare institutions or the University of Montenegro.
Various research studies around the world on beliefs in various conspiracy theories show that there is often a link between people’s worldviews and their views on human rights, and between the personal experiences of an individual's socialization and their attitudes toward conspiracy theories. This is observed in the Montenegrin research findings as well: people who believe in a conspiracy theory regarding the global concealment of information about the harmful effects of vaccines from the public so that ‘big pharma’ can make a profit is more often believed by those who see the world as a hostile and dangerous place and who believe that people who do not share their political views are evil – these are more often citizens who generally have less trust in the world and in people in general, as well as those with a lower culture of dialogue. Also, they more often believe that the movement for women’s rights and the insistence on equal rights have gone too far, as well as that the decline of the traditional family concept, according to which the husband works and the wife stays at home, is the key cause of today’s problems.
The research in Montenegro has shown that those who believe in vaccine-related conspiracy theories are more likely to believe in conspiracy theories about coronavirus. Also, they are more likely to claim that they would not get vaccinated. In addition, this theory of a global conspiracy to conceal information about the harmful effects of vaccines so that pharmaceutical companies can make profits is believed by parents who would not want their children to receive all the recommended vaccines, as well as by parents who are not sure whether they should trust their child’s doctor.
The fact that the strengthening of the media literacy of citizens is of crucial importance for public health is indicated by data, according to which conspiracy theories are more often believed by those citizens of Montenegro who claim to have been exposed to a lot of incorrect information on this topic, as well as by those who often feel frustrated when seeking information about coronavirus.
The nationally representative sample for this research covered 821 respondents aged 18 or older throughout Montenegro. Data collection took place between 24 March and 26 March of this year through an electronic survey, i.e. questionnaire, whose average duration was 20 minutes. The key research findings are available on the UNICEF Montenegro website.