Research on health communication can inform better vaccine messaging to the remaining vaccine holdouts. While forceful and direct messages encouraging vaccination may have been successful with the majority of U.S. adults, this same messaging may backfire on holdouts. Instead, well-intentioned, forceful messaging may be perceived as a threat to free will and trigger “reactance”— where the person is much less likely to do as directed. However, research has shown that even simple changes to make messages less threatening can reduce reactance. Framing information as a suggestion instead of a command leaves an individual feeling more like they have the freedom to make their own choice. Messaging on social media can also take advantage of the ‘bandwagon effect’ to reduce reactance. Even forceful messages were found to be more accepted if they had a lot of likes on social media.
How to message to vaccine holdouts
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