Informations and abstract
Keywords: Covid-19, vaccines, infodemic, information overload on social media, ideological polarization.
This paper provides empirical evidence about varying levels of trust in anti-Covid vaccines amongst Italian citizens. We problematize the issue of trust at the crossroads between three strands of literature. First, extant reflections on «infodemics» – i.e., the massive circulation of often dubious or fake information about health matters. Second, literature on information overload on social media, and users’ willingness to process all the information they are exposed to on these platforms. Third, studies on ideological polarization and its implications for the political management of the pandemic but also for citizens’ behaviors and attitudes towards it. More specifically, we hypothesize a positive association between higher levels of trust in Covid-19 vaccine and knowledge about the pandemic based on the information shared by institutional sources. We also hypothesize a negative association between trust in the vaccine and a perception of over-exposition to information on social media. Finally, we hypothesize the existence of an ideological trust gap for right-wing citizens and, to a lesser degree, for those who refuse to locate themselves on the ideological axis, who all express lower trust levels than left-wingers. Our analysis leans on unique data from a sample of adult internet users surveyed in December 2020. Results confirm that lower knowledge levels and the perception of being over-exposed to information on social media reduced trust in vaccines. Moreover, they show the existence of a polarized scenario in which left-wing citizens were more trustful in vaccines than others