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The effect of herd immunity thresholds on willingness to vaccinate
Linköping University, Department of Behavioural Sciences and Learning, Psychology. Linköping University, Faculty of Arts and Sciences.
Linköping University, Department of Management and Engineering, Economics. Linköping University, Faculty of Arts and Sciences. Linköping University, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences. Linköping University, Department of Health, Medicine and Caring Sciences, Division of Society and Health.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-8159-1249
Linköping University, Department of Behavioural Sciences and Learning, Psychology. Linköping University, Faculty of Arts and Sciences. Decis Res, OR USA.ORCID iD: 0000-0003-2873-4500
2022 (English)In: Humanities and Social Sciences Communications, ISSN 2662-9992, Vol. 9, no 1, article id 243Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, media and policymakers openly speculated about the number of immune citizens needed to reach a herd immunity threshold. What are the effects of such numerical goals on the willingness to vaccinate? In a large representative sample (N = 1540) of unvaccinated Swedish citizens, we find that giving a low (60%) compared to a high (90%) threshold has direct effects on beliefs about reaching herd immunity and beliefs about how many others that will get vaccinated. Presenting the high threshold makes people believe that herd immunity is harder to reach (on average about half a step on a seven-point scale), compared to the low threshold. Yet at the same time, people also believe that a higher number of the population will get vaccinated (on average about 3.3% more of the population). Since these beliefs affect willingness to vaccinate in opposite directions, some individuals are encouraged and others discouraged depending on the threshold presented. Specifically, in mediation analysis, the high threshold indirectly increases vaccination willingness through the belief that many others will get vaccinated (B = 0.027, p = 0.003). At the same time, the high threshold also decreases vaccination willingness through the belief that the threshold goal is less attainable (B = -0.053, p < 0.001) compared to the low threshold condition. This has consequences for ongoing COVID-19 vaccination and future vaccination campaigns. One message may not fit all, as different groups can be encouraged or discouraged from vaccination.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Springer Nature , 2022. Vol. 9, no 1, article id 243
National Category
Evolutionary Biology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-187366DOI: 10.1057/s41599-022-01257-7ISI: 000826910900002PubMedID: 35874284OAI: oai:DiVA.org:liu-187366DiVA, id: diva2:1688807
Available from: 2022-08-19 Created: 2022-08-19 Last updated: 2023-05-04

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Andersson, PerTinghög, GustavVästfjäll, Daniel
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