June 16th, 2021

Student research blog 1: Social media – a tool for health communication?

If this pandemic has taught anything, it is that people get their information from different sources and that not everyone listens to the same voices. Unfortunately, especially in times like these, it is important that people get the right information! However, it seems like certain individuals are harder to reach, especially when the crucial health information is conveyed through mainstream outlets only. 

Until now, health experts and governments have indeed mainly spread their information via news networks or press conferences, although some have already started tapping into the world of social media. Question is: Is that really the way to reach the targeted younger generation, or are different appeals necessary? Maybe it is not enough for head of states and experts to get on Instagram for people to identify more with them. Maybe people are more convinced when a person they look up to shares information on a topic. Or maybe, having a more emotional approach to relaying health information is the way to get people aware of possible dangers. 

Finding the answers to these questions could be extremely insightful for the future! Social media could be the new relay station for spreading health information amongst harder to reach populations. Furthermore, it could be useful to know to which voices these populations listen to most on social media sites. 

That is why this study is trying to find out to what extent social media, Instagram in particular, can be used to get essential information out to the broader population. In our research, we are investigating what impact exposure to different sources can have on people’ attitude on a certain topic: We are thus comparing the influence of a celebrity, an authority, an expert opinion, and an emotional appeal on people’s attitudes toward different Covid-19 safety measures. 

Interested in our findings? Check out this website for the results!

Auteur: Job van den Hurk
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