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Decoding the Mind: The Psychology Behind Belief in Health Misinformation

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Health misinformation thrives due to confirmation bias. People are often inclined to look for evidence that confirms their existing beliefs, and if they come across any misleading information related to those beliefs it will be easily accepted as true without critical examination.

Additionally, much of the health misinformation circulating online can appear believable at first glance; this furthers its spread and acceptance among unsuspecting readers and viewers. Finally, with an overload of incoming data from various sources - ranging from advertised products or treatments claiming instant cures to well-intentioned but scientifically inaccurate advice from family members - it can seem almost impossible to filter out what's accurate versus non-accurate. As a result, individuals may take anything they read about health topics at face value rather than ensuring its accuracy before believing in it completely. In this blog post, we will delve into the fascinating world of psychology and explore the factors contributing to the belief in health misinformation.


The Influence of Cognitive Biases

Our brains are wired to take shortcuts when processing information, and this can make us susceptible to cognitive biases. Confirmation bias, for example, causes us to seek out and believe information that aligns with our pre-existing beliefs. When it comes to health misinformation, individuals may selectively interpret or remember information that confirms their existing health beliefs, ignoring contradictory evidence. For example, people who believe in natural remedies may interpret scientific evidence that suggests that natural remedies are not effective as inconclusive or biased, even if the evidence is robust.


Emotional Factors

Emotions play a significant role in shaping our beliefs, including beliefs about health. Fear, for instance, can make us more likely to believe in health misinformation. This is because alarming health claims trigger our instinct for self-preservation, leading us to accept information without critically evaluating its credibility. Additionally, emotions can cloud our judgment and impair our ability to reason, making us more vulnerable to misinformation. This is why it is important to stay objective when assessing health information and take the time to research the facts before making a decision. Additionally, it is important to be aware of our own emotions and biases when assessing health information.


Trust and Authority

Trust is a fundamental aspect of human psychology, and it heavily influences our beliefs. When it comes to health information, we often rely on trusted sources such as doctors, healthcare professionals, or reputable organizations. However, in the age of the internet, anyone can pose as an authority on health matters. Without proper scrutiny, we may unknowingly trust and believe in misinformation shared by unqualified individuals or dubious sources. This can lead to false or inaccurate health advice, as well as health scares and panic. It is important to verify the credibility of any health source before trusting its information. So make sure to do your research and make sure to trust the source!


Social Influence and Group Dynamics

Humans are social beings, and our beliefs are often shaped by the people around us. Social influence can be a powerful force when it comes to health misinformation. If our friends, family members, or online communities endorse certain health claims, we may be more inclined to believe them. Additionally, group dynamics can create echo chambers, reinforcing and amplifying misinformation within specific communities. This makes it challenging to identify and correct false health claims and can lead to dangerous consequences. It is important to be aware of the power of social influence when it comes to health misinformation and to be vigilant in verifying any claims before adopting them.



In conclusion, the psychology behind believing health misinformation is a complex interplay of cognitive biases, emotional factors, trust, and social influence. Understanding these underlying mechanisms can help us navigate the sea of information and make informed decisions about our health. By promoting critical thinking, media literacy, and scientific literacy, we can empower individuals to separate fact from fiction and protect themselves from the detrimental effects of health misinformation. The Scottish philosopher Adam Smith once wrote: “Science is the great antidote to the poison of enthusiasm and superstition.”



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