U of A professor joins transatlantic report on COVID-19 vaccine commitment

Russell Cothren

Andy Brownback

The British Academy recently published 10 in-depth transatlantic reports under the collective title Recovery from COVID-19: Building future pandemic preparedness and understanding citizen engagement in the US and UK. One of those 10 reports, “Securing the Goalposts on Vaccine Hesitancy,” was co-authored by Andy Brownback, associate professor of economics at U of A.

The purpose of Brownback’s report was to quantitatively assess two things that influenced vaccine hesitancy: the lack of information about COVID-19 and its vaccines, and the extent of politically motivated reasoning or exposure to misinformation. Brownback’s co-authors included Silvia Sonderegger, Guillermo Cruces, Seung-Keun Martinez and Monika Pompeo, all from the University of Nottingham.

To answer the first question, the researchers used a series of short, informative videos discussing technical details about vaccines. They found that these videos were very effective in improving attitudes towards vaccination. According to Brownback, their findings “suggest that more comprehensive communication that does not shy away from technical content may be a more successful route to reaching vaccine-hesitant populations than current communication efforts.”

To answer the second question, the researchers explored what they called “paradoxical reasoning.” They presented attendees with the most extreme implications of their anti-vaccine stances. For example, if someone said they would prefer “natural immunity” to COVID-19, the researchers asked if that meant they would support a program where they could become infected with COVID-19 at some point. where hospitals and ICUs have a lot of resources available. beds and treatments. The researchers found that exposure to the extreme implications of their anti-vaccine stances made participants more positive about vaccination. “This suggests that while people may sincerely hold anti-vaccine views, they are also motivated to avoid being associated with extreme versions of those views,” Brownback concluded.

“We are very grateful that the British Academy has chosen to fund this research which has specific relevance to the current moment – ​​the COVID pandemic – and great relevance to improving communication in an increasingly polarized world,” said Brownback about the project.

the COVID 19 recovery report is the result of a partnership between the British Academy, the Social Sciences Research Council and the Science & Innovation Network in the US to provide funding for 10 transatlantic studies focusing on UK-US COVID-19 vaccine engagement. The program was funded by the UK Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.

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