Gathering, processing, and interpreting information about COVID-19

Arnout B. Boot*, Anita Eerland, Joran Jongerling, Peter P. J. L. Verkoeijen, Rolf A. Zwaan

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

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Does cognitive motivation influence how people gather and interpret information about COVID-19 and their adherence to measures? To address these questions, we conducted a longitudinal survey among European and American respondents. Wave 1 (N=501) was conducted on March 27, 2020 and Wave 2 (N=326) on July 1, 2020. We assessed COVID-19 knowledge, endorsement of COVID-19 conspiracy theories, media use, Need for Cognition (NC), Need for Cognitive Closure (NCC), and self-reported adherence to governmental measures taken. Results showed that nearly three-quarters of our respondents actively searched for information about COVID-19. Most at least once a day. Information seeking behaviour was not influenced by cognitive motivation (i.e., NC and NCC). However, cognitive motivation was related to (1) knowledge about COVID-19, (2) conspiracy rejection, and (3) change in knowledge over time. Respondents with more knowledge on COVID-19 also indicated to adhere more often to measures taken by their government. Self-reported adherence to measures was not influenced by cognitive motivation. Implications of these findings will be discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Article number6569
Number of pages17
JournalScientific Reports
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Behavior
  • COVID-19/pathology
  • Cognition
  • Female
  • Guideline Adherence
  • Humans
  • Knowledge
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • SARS-CoV-2/isolation & purification
  • Self Report
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Young Adult


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