Date of Award
Master of Science (MS)
In the fight against Covid-19, overt, science-based messaging is not enough to persuade everyone to get vaccinated no matter how encouraging the data. Recent studies on attitudes toward vaccines and other health-promoting measures have provided clues as to why so many are still opposed, suggesting many who were resistant had reasons that were rooted along moral grounds. This process of moralization occurs when a belief becomes a moral matter of ‘right and wrong’ rather than a means to an end. Because moral beliefs are more entrenched, they’ve proven much more difficult to change. There is one approach that could increase the appeal of Covid-19 vaccines among those whose vaccine attitudes have become moralized. By reframing vaccine communication around the core basis of a person’s moral beliefs, messages could be made into much more compelling moral arguments. In this study among parents with young children (11 years and under), we randomly assigned participants to read one of several different pro-vaccine health posters rooted in moral and non-moral arguments, then measured attitudes across several scales. We predicted and found that messages reframed along moral values of “purity” were significantly more effective at reducing vaccine hesitancy and increasing behavioral intent to be vaccinated compared to other messages. The hope is that these findings can improve health messaging targeting parents with children (11 years and under) who remain hesitant about vaccinating their children and increasing uptake of these life-saving measures.
Vitro, Max, "Changing Vaccine Hesitant Attitudes of Parents Using Moral Persuasion" (2023). Master's Theses. 4491.
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