No-vaxxers: The emotional drivers and how to navigate barriers to the COVID-19 vaccine | Maru Group

Negative emotions to COVID-19 vaccines must be addressed to build acceptance.

Reasons behind hesitancy

Somewhat surprisingly, many of the reasons he heard for refusing to get vaccinated were not wild conspiracy theories but were within the realm of reason. Some thought that the risks of COVID-19 to them personally were minimal and therefore, they didn’t need a vaccine — either because their immune system was sufficient for staving off a bad health outcome or they perceived the probability of catching COVID-19 as relatively low. The perspective of others was colored by the civil liberties issue — they thought it was liberal over-reach — with mandates to get vaccinated infringing on their civil liberties. Others distrusted the sources of information they were receiving on COVID-19 — public health officials, government authorities.

How emotion affects attitudes

While Thompson’s take on the situation is a good one, from our perspective, there’s one glaring gap in this and other articles on the topic. Though asking no-vaxxers how they think is interesting, understanding the implicit emotional reaction no-vaxxers feel about COVID-19 vaccines and getting vaccinated is crucial to understanding, and potentially influencing, their behavior. It’s important to understand the way in which no-vaxxers rationalize their decision not to get vaccinated, and perhaps even more imperative to understand the emotions that underlie and influence this decision. For example, a no-vaxxer whose decision is driven by fear may be motivated to change their mind by different arguments than a no-vaxxer whose decision is driven by anger. A deep understanding of emotional triggers is critical to the pursuit of changing behavior.

A square with two rubber ducks, a graphic of a head, and a caption that reads: This Emotional Signature is the brain’s hidden analysis that always influences and most often dominates rational decisions.

A solution to vaccine hesitancy

We suggest fighting “fire with fire”-using communications that evoke strong emotions to battle emotional resistance. There’s evidence that this approach is beginning to be adopted in persuasive communications directed towards no-vaxxers. GetVaccineAnswers.org, for example, created a series of advertisements that lean into emotion to motivate vaccination. By capturing conversations between individuals who care deeply for each other, but who have differing perspectives on getting the COVID-19 vaccine, the ads effectively use emotions of fear, sorrow, frustration, and love to activate deep emotional triggers to convey the pro-vaccination message and attempt to influence behavior change.

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Maru helps its clients make informed decisions in real-time by combining proprietorial software, deep industry experience, and unique IP in system 1 apps.