Good Stories and Tall Tales in the Media: Why Americans are Conflicted About Organ Donation

Monday, December 03, 2012

Susan E. Morgan

Purdue University

While the Gallup poll shows that Americans have almost universally positive attitudes in support of organ donation, actual donor registry rates hover between 30-40% in most states. In spite of generally accurate news coverage of organ donation, most people believe in myths about organ donation, including suspicions that doctors kill patients for their organs, and that an underground black market for organs from murdered donors exists in the U.S. By outlining a sequence of studies, this presentation will demonstrate that the root of the belief in these myths is the power of entertainment media to tell a compelling story about organ donation. The consequences of beliefs on behaviors will also be discussed.

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