Assessing Social Motivations During Vaccination Decisions
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This dissertation utilized two separate studies to investigate the effects of social motivation during vaccine decision-making. Some parents cite social motivations, like contributing to herd immunity, as an influence on vaccine decisions, but differences in social motivation between parents who are confident and those who are hesitant about vaccines has yet to be investigated. Results from our first investigation among both vaccine confident and hesitant participants show decreased willingness to risk side effects to prevent disease in socially distant individuals. In vaccine hesitant individuals, empathic concern was associated with increased willingness to risk side effects to prevent disease in socially distant individuals. In vaccine confident participants, personal distress during prosocial scenarios was associated with decreased willingness to risk side effects in socially distant individuals. Shared decision making and educational programs that emphasizing empathic concern may increase the likelihood that hesitant individuals will vaccinate their children to protect socially distant individuals. Our second investigation focused on the primary drivers during social vaccination decisions. Certain vaccines carry an unbalanced ratio of risk and benefit to the individual being vaccinated. Symptoms of the flu, and potential side effects from the vaccine, are relatively low in cost to a younger individual, but can be deadly to an immunocompromised person. Thus, vaccinating in some cases may have more of a benefit to socially distant individuals. Results from our second study show that as benefits of the vaccine shifted to socially distant individuals, the influence of risk on decision making increased. This increase was seen in both vaccine hesitant and vaccine confident participants. Confident participants valued benefits equally across social distance, while hesitant participants showed an increased influence of benefits for socially proximate recipients. Together these results suggest targeting benefits to socially proximate individuals, while downplaying risks, may be the best strategy for increasing overall vaccine uptake.
Table of Contents
Paper one: Vaccine Hesitancy and Social Motivation During Vaccine Decisions -- Paper two: Influence of Side Effect Risk Increases During Prosocial Vaccine Decisions -- Additional analyses -- Original proposal Literature review