Emotions as a Tool to Persuade People to Get Vaccinated

Emotions as a Tool to Persuade People to Get Vaccinated


Amid the current talk about the necessity of a new vaccination campaign, it becomes even more important to reach out to all segments of the population. Communication targeting even the most doubtful about the need of getting vaccinated can focus on three elements of persuasion, all three played on the emotional front. What about messages full of information and scientific details? They are less effective. Instead, the most convincing elements to be conveyed are those that recall personal experiences of vulnerability and dependence, that invite to follow the social rules centered on cooperation among citizens, with a view to herd immunity, and third, finally, that put the emphasis on the presence of vulnerable individuals that need to be protected in the different environments that people inhabit every day.
Moreover, “campaigns with lots of details tend to confuse and reduce the understanding of the information received. On the other hand, a more emotional but also more fluid, simplified and brief communication style can achieve higher rates of public retention,” in the words of Maria Cucciniello, associate professor at the Department of Social and Political Sciences at Bocconi University, who wrote Altruism and Vaccination Intentions: Evidence from Behavioral Experiments, together with Alessia Melegaro (Department of Social and Political Sciences, Bocconi) and with Paolo Pin (Bocconi Institute for Data Science and Analytics), Blanka Imre (Department of Economics, Bocconi), Gregory A. Porumbescu (School of Public Affairs and Administration at Rutgers University, Newark, USA).
The fieldwork, carried out in the pre-Covid period, was conducted in the laboratory through an experiment based on a game logic and on a sample of university students. In parallel, also in 2018, a similar research was carried out but with parents of children under 5 years of age. In addition, a survey was conducted in 2021 in various countries (Italy, USA and UK) not only to consider the full impact of the pandemic but also using a representative sample of the population, by age, gender and education, equally divided between vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals. However, already in the earlier paper, “the importance of both the kind of the content used and the communication format chosen emerges. And it is precisely from its relevance that we deduce how a way of communicating that is too objective and thick with detailed data and information can have a counterproductive effect,” Cucciniello concludes.

by Camillo Papini
Bocconi Knowledge newsletter


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