Understanding the psychology of vaccine acceptance is key to convincing the majority of Americans to take the COVID-19 vaccine when it becomes available, says SMU health behavior researcher Austin Baldwin.
Research shows that individuals make health decisions based on their perceptions – the process of interpreting information and turning it into meaningful knowledge – and their beliefs – the process of acceptance of the truth or validity of something. To choose to take a COVID-19 vaccine, individuals must have a perception of the severity of the virus and that a vaccine will be effective as well as a belief that they are at risk of contracting the disease, Baldwin says. Anticipated regret is also a robust predictor of how health decisions are made, he says. Humans can imagine how they would feel if they chose not to be vaccinated, then became infected with COVID-19 or infected someone dear to them.