Jensen, E.A., Wagoner, B., Pfleger, A., Herbig, L. & Watzlawik, M. (2021). Making sense of unfamiliar COVID-19 vaccines: How national origin affects vaccination willingness. PLoS ONE, 16 (12), e0261273.

Vaccination willingness is a critical factor in pandemics, including the COVID-19 crisis. Therefore, investigating underlying drivers of vaccination willingness/hesitancy is an essential social science contribution. The present study of German residents investigates the mental shortcuts people are using to make sense of unfamiliar vaccine options by examining vaccination willingness for different vaccines using an experimental design in a quantitative survey. German vaccines were preferred over equivalent foreign vaccines, and the favorability ratings of foreign countries where COVID-19 vaccines were developed correlated with the level of vaccination willingness for each vaccine. The patterns in vaccination willingness were more pronounced when the national origin was shown along with the vaccine manufacturer label. The study shows how non-scientific factors drive everyday decision-making about vaccination. Taking such social psychological and communication aspects into account in the design of vaccination campaigns would increase their effectiveness.

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