Emotional Contagion and the Power of Belief: Why it Matters to Global Health

October 26, 2022
This event has passeed.
Virtual Webinar
This event is part of the Speaker Series on Misinformation, co-sponsored by the Shorenstein Center for Media, Politics and Public Policy at Harvard's Kennedy School and the NULab at Northeastern University.

Belief is a powerful emotion and falls out of the realm of fact-checking. It also has a contagious effect on its followers, particularly when they are gathering together – on or off-line.   New digital technologies and their algorithms can fuel social media swarms and emotional contagion at unprecedented speed and scope reaching even the most remote corners of the world. Rumors, anxieties and fears can spread like wildfires, clustering around shared sentiments and beliefs  – making them look even more ubiquitous than they really are, and sometimes triggering behaviours that most individuals would not have dared on their own. This talk will look at the impact of this phenomenon on global health.

Heidi J. Larson, PhD, is Professor of Anthropology, Risk and Decision Science and is the Founding Director of the Vaccine Confidence Project at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine. She is also Clinical Professor of Health Metrics Sciences, University of Washington, Seattle, USA, and Guest Professor at the University of Antwerp, Belgium.