Contextualized impacts of an infodemic on vaccine hesitancy : The moderating role of socioeconomic and cultural factors

Fen LIN*, Xi CHEN, Edmund W. CHENG

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)peer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


This study examines how perceived information overload and misinformation affect vaccine hesitancy and how this is moderated by structural and cultural factors. By applying and extending the fundamental cause theory, this study proposes a contextualized impact model to analyze a cross-national survey of 6034 residents in six societies in Asia, Europe and North America in June 2021. The study finds that (1) Older and highly-educated participants were less susceptible to COVID-19 information overload and belief in vaccine misinformation. (2) Perceived information overload led to an increase in vaccine acceptance and uptake, whereas belief in vaccine misinformation caused a decrease. (3) The structural differentiation of vaccine hesitancy was salient and higher socioeconomic status could buffer the negative impact of misinformation on vaccine acceptance. (4) Cultural factors such as collectivism and authoritarian mentality also served as buffers against the misinformation that reduced vaccine acceptance and uptake. These findings add nuanced footnotes to the fundamental causes theory and contribute to the discussion on the global recovery from the infodemic. Besides fact-checking and improving individual information literacy, effective and long-term information management and health policies must pay attention to stratified information gaps across socioeconomic groups, and to contextualize the communication and intervention strategies in different cultures.

Original languageEnglish
Article number103013
JournalInformation Processing and Management
Issue number5
Early online date16 Jul 2022
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the Research Grants Council of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, China (grant no. CityU 11609219 ), and by the Center for Public Affairs and Law at City University of Hong Kong (project no. 9609002 ), as well as a Knowledge Transfer Earmarked Fund from Hong Kong University Grants Commission (6354048). Ethical approval was obtained from the Human Subject Ethics Committee of the City University of Hong Kong (Ref No: 8-2020-04-E295-18).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022

© 2022 Published by Elsevier Ltd.


  • COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy
  • Cross-national survey
  • Culture
  • fundamental causes theory
  • Infodemic
  • Information overload
  • Misinformation
  • Socioeconomic status


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