Increasing COVID-19 Vaccine Acceptance Among Vaccine Hesitant Parents Using Psychological Inoculation

Nathaniel Evans has been awarded OIBR seed funding ($5020) through the Grantsmanship Development Program (GDP) for his proposed project titled, “Increasing COVID-19 Vaccine Acceptance Among Vaccine Hesitant Parents Using Psychological Inoculation.”

Abract: The objective of the proposed research is to augment vaccine acceptance and coverage by developing and testing intervention strategies that inoculate vaccine hesitant parents against COVID-19 vaccine misinformation. Psychological inoculation (McGuire and Papageorgis, 1961) is analogous to biomedical inoculation, wherein individuals exposed to misinformation weakened by logical fallacies develop “cognitive antibodies” so that they are equipped to defend against future misinformation (van der Linden et al. 2021). Traditional debunking or “supportive” messaging techniques show limited effectiveness in health contexts because they require individuals to develop their own counterarguments against information, whereas psychological inoculation provides individuals with heuristic counterarguments used to fight questionable or potentially deceptive (mis)information (Maertens et al. 2020). Emerging research using inoculation interventions suggest promise for eliciting resistance to anti-vaccine conspiracy theories (Jolley and Douglas 2017) and offers protection to those already exposed to misinformation (Cook et al., 2017; van der Linden et al., 2017). Psychological inoculation transcends the limited effectiveness of existing debunking messaging techniques in a variety of health contexts. Inoculation interventions have untaped potential for changing undesirable vaccine-related attitudes and behaviors and offer protection from future vaccine misinformation. Overall, we believe the successful development and implementation of inoculation interventions is paramount in providing vaccine hesitant individuals the defenses needed to fight current and unforeseen COVID-19 vaccine misinformation and will ultimately increase coverage rates.

Nathaniel J. Evans 

Related Research


Beyond Fear Appeals: The Role of Hope in Improving Effectiveness of Health Messages.” Paper accepted for poster by Communicating Science, Health, Environment, and Risk Division

Abstract: One of the understudied areas in health communication research is hope. This study examines the effect of efficacy-inducing information on hope and subsequent attitudinal health behaviors. A total of five hundred fifty-three adults in the United States read health promotion social media posts designed to induce perceived self-efficacy (vs. non-efficacy-inducing health information) in fear-appeal […]

Bartosz WojdynskiYoungji SeoJeongHyun (Janice) Lee
read more
Effective Health Risk Communications: Lessons Learned about COVID-19 Pandemic through the Lens of Practitioners

Abstract: The study utilizes semi-structured interviews of health risk communication practitioners in the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic. The contingency theory of strategic conflict management is the guide to understanding the challenges and nuances. Insights gained from interviewing practitioners (projected, n=40) from different sectors with diverse professional backgrounds will help advance the contingency theory’s application […]

Yan JinTaylor Voges
read more