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Epistemic vice predicts acceptance of Covid-19 misinformation

Universität Hamburg, Institut für Philosophie

Why are mistaken beliefs about COVID-19 so prevalent? Political identity, education and other demographic variables explain only part of the differences between people in their susceptibility to COVID-19 misinformation. This paper focuses on another explanation: epistemic vice.

  • Disziplin: Sozial, Weitere
  • Forschungsmethode: Quantitativ
  • Forschungsdesign: Primärerhebung, Offene Befragung (selbstselektiert)
  • Erhebungsstatus: Erhebung abgeschlossen, Ergebnisse veröffentlicht

Ziele der Studie

The main goal of this study is to measure the level of epistemic vice of participants using a novel Epistemic Vice Scale that captures features of the current competing analyses of epistemic vice in the literature. Epistemic vices are character traits that interfere with acquiring, maintaining, and transmitting knowledge. If the basic assumption of vice epistemology is right, then people with epistemic vices such as indifference to the truth or rigidity in their belief structures will tend to be more susceptible to believing COVID-19 misinformation.
Furthermore this study also asked participants questions eliciting the extent to which they subscribe to myths and misinformation about COVID-19.


A total of 998 participants were recruited and compensated using Amazon’s Mechanical Turk platform. The data collection was part of a pre-registered observational study. The eligibility criteria were living in the United States and being 18 years or older. Ages ranged from the bracket 18–29 years to the bracket 74 years and up, with the median respondent falling in the age bracket 30–39 years, consistent with the most recent US census data.

To study potential epistemically vicious tendencies of respondents, we administered the Epistemic Vice Scale (EVS), as described in section 2. Items were administered in random order. Participants were asked to respond to the items on a five-point, fully anchored Likert scale (1 = “strongly disagree”; 2 = “somewhat disagree”; 3 = “neither agree nor disagree”; 4 = “somewhat agree”; 5 = “strongly agree”).


The datasets analyzed during the current study are not publicly available yet. Please get in touch with the responsible person.