University of South Florida

College of Arts & Sciences


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CAS faculty cited in President Biden’s economic report

Research from USF College of Arts and Sciences School of Public Affairs and School of Information faculty was cited in the 2023 Economic Report of the President.  

The report, released in March, includes a reflection by President Joseph Biden regarding the administration’s economic accomplishments, opportunities and challenges ahead.

President Biden references the research of Drs. Stephen Neely, associate professor, and his co-authors, Christina Eldredge, assistant professor of instruction at the School of Information, Robin Ersing, school director and professor, and Christa Remington, assistant professor, titled “Vaccine Hesitancy and Exposure to Misinformation: A Survey Analysis,” which has been published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine.  

They conducted a web-based survey of 600 adults in Florida in June of 2021 and found that high levels of misinformation exposure was observed among participants, with 73 percent reporting some exposure to misinformation about COVID-19 vaccines in the past 6 months.  

They also found that exposure to misinformation was directly correlated with vaccine hesitancy. 

person receiving vaccination in their arm

“We anticipated that vaccine hesitancy would be related to misinformation exposure, and it was.  The magnitude of that relationship was consistent with our expectations,” Neely said.

Neely said the politicization of the COVID-19 pandemic underscores the role political thought leaders have in promoting public health guidance.

“Once information consumers interpret the pandemic (or any public health crisis) as a ‘political event,’ it becomes very hard to change that narrative, and these individuals will increasingly rely on political cues to inform their beliefs and behavior,” he said. “This means that political thought leaders can be very influential in promoting public health guidance and reducing vaccine hesitancy. Unfortunately, it also means that political thought leaders can be very influential in exacerbating vaccine hesitancy if/when they advance narratives that undermine public health guidance.”

“It’s always our hope that the work we’re doing will have real-world impacts outside of the academy, so it’s nice to know that the work is being read and cited in these venues,” Neely said.  

“Having our work cited at this level helps with showing students the impact of our research and the relevance of what we are teaching at USF,” Eldredge said.  

View the Economic Report of the President.

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About CAS

The College of Arts and Sciences is the intellectual heart of the University of South Florida. We are a community of teachers and scholars united in the belief that broadly educated people are the basis of a just, free, and prosperous society. By focusing on the big questions facing all of humanity, we prepare students for successful, socially responsible personal and professional lives. By conducting innovative, interdisciplinary research and scholarship, we advance knowledge in ways that prepare us to address complex social and scientific problems and enhance the quality of life for people and communities.