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Religious identity cues increase vaccination intentions, trust in medical experts among American Christians: Study

ANI | Updated: Nov 19, 2021 05:40 IST

Washington [US], November 19 (ANI): A study of 1,765 unvaccinated adult American Christians, when presented with an endorsement of the COVID-19 vaccine from a prominent medical expert, participants who were shown cues highlighting the religious identities of the prominent expert and several other medical experts expressed greater intention to vaccinate and to promote vaccination to family and friends, compared with participants who were not shown common identity cues in the endorsement; the effect of the common identity cues was pronounced in the most religious participants, demonstrating the efficacy of common identity cues in promoting vaccination among a vaccine-hesitant subpopulation, according to the authors.
Containing the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States requires mobilising a large majority of the mass public to vaccinate, but many Americans are hesitant or opposed to vaccination. A significant predictor of vaccine attitudes in the United States is religiosity, with more-religious individuals expressing more distrust in science and being less likely to get vaccinated, according to the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).
The study test whether explicit cues of common religious identity can help medical experts build trust and increase vaccination intentions. In a preregistered survey experiment conducted with a sample of unvaccinated American Christians (n = 1,765), we presented participants with a vaccine endorsement from a prominent medical expert (NIH Director Francis Collins) and a short essay about doctors' and scientists' endorsement of the vaccines, PNAS said in a brief report.

In the common religious identity condition, these materials also highlighted the religious identity of Collins and many medical experts. Unvaccinated Christians in the common identity condition expressed higher trust in medical experts, greater intentions to vaccinate, and greater intentions to promote vaccination to friends and family than those who did not see common identity cue.
These effects were moderated by religiosity, with the strongest effects observed among the most religious participants, and statistically mediated by heightened perceptions of shared values with the medical expert endorsing the vaccine.
These findings demonstrate the efficacy of common identity cues for promoting vaccination in a vaccine-hesitant subpopulation. More generally, the results illustrate how trust in science can be built through the invocation of common group identities, even identities often assumed to be in tension with science. (ANI)