One third of Montenegro’s citizens believe in conspiracy theories about coronavirus
People who have been exposed to a lot of inaccurate information about the coronavirus are more likely to believe in conspiracy theories
PODGORICA, 20 JUNE 2021 – One in three citizens of Montenegro believe in conspiracy theories about coronavirus. People with primary or a lower level of education are more often among them. This was one of the key findings of the survey that Ipsos research agency conducted in March on a nationally representative sample with support from the British Embassy Podgorica and UNICEF.
The survey also showed that people who have been exposed to a lot of inaccurate information about the coronavirus are more likely to believe in conspiracy theories. In addition, those who say they were lucky if they managed to find the information they were looking for on this topic are more likely also to believe in disinformation on COVID-19.
These findings point to the importance of media literacy for public health, because it enables people to find the information that interests them, as well as to critically assess any information and fact-check it in reliable sources.
Among the citizens who stated that they did not follow the information about the epidemic from different sources, there are significantly more who believe in misinformation and conspiracy theories about coronavirus and vaccines than among other respondents. Informing from different sources, comparing them and checking the accuracy of information are some of the basic skills developed by media literacy. In addition, to combat conspiracy theories and disinformation, talking to experts – that is, medical doctors – is crucial.
It is completely understandable that people are worried, scared or confused. I urge them to share all their questions and concerns with medical doctors and to talk openly with them about all the information they find, including conspiracy theories.
The survey also points to the importance of building a culture of dialogue in society, that is, nurturing a cultural exchange of different opinions. Namely, a higher percentage of citizens who mostly communicate with like-minded people on the internet and of those who think that people who do not share their political opinions are evil believe in conspiracy theories about the coronavirus.
Freedom of the media and freedom to express our own views is important – but those who publish information should be accountable for what they write. Conspiracy theories spread online but they cause serious harm in the real world. In the case of protecting ourselves from COVID-19, getting accurate information is really a matter of life and death.
Data on the impact of conspiracy theories on citizens' behaviour indicates how important it is for public health to strengthen media literacy and a culture of dialogue, as well as open communication with doctors. Namely, among citizens who believe in conspiracy theories about COVID-19, there are significantly more of those who would not want to be vaccinated against coronavirus, as well as people who, if they had a baby today, would not want their child to receive all the recommended vaccines, including the MMR vaccine.
The nationally representative sample for this survey consisted of 821 respondents aged 18 and over across the country. Data collection was carried out in the period 24–26 March of this year through a telephone survey with a questionnaire whose average duration was 20 minutes. The key findings of this survey are available on the website of UNICEF Montenegro.