Anti-Vaxxers, Wealth, and Individualism: How Self-Perception May Explain the Immunization Divide   [open pdf - 0B]

From the Abstract: "The proliferation of health misinformation on social media has amplified the voice of the vaccine refusal movement. While popular explanations recognize distrust of institutions and social media as drivers of vaccine skepticism, such refusal exemplifies a wealth gradient that these theories do not resolve: educated, high-income households are more likely to refuse vaccination. This distribution suggests that deeper underlying factors may influence one's susceptibility to misinformation. Cultural psychology offers one explanation that may reconcile these theories with the wealth gradient: individuals define themselves in part through their communities, but the extent to which they do yields insight into their risk-perception and social decision-making. This concept of the self has been understood through a spectrum with individualists on one extreme and collectivists at the other, with individualists forming an identity that is distinct from their relationships and collectivists identifying with their relationships. Wealth may influence where one falls on the individualist-collectivist spectrum, thereby shaping both how one prioritizes public health with regards to personal freedom and how one evaluates new information that goes against commonly-held beliefs. Vaccination, with its public health repercussions, lends an opportunity to examine how people make decisions with regard to their communities, and how wealth shapes those decisions. This is relevant to future public health crusades: ultimately, any attempt to combat vaccine skepticism must begin with an examination of the factors that make individuals susceptible to misinformation."

Harvard School of Public Health
Retrieved From:
Harvard Public Health Review: https://harvardpublichealthreview.org/
Media Type:
Harvard Public Health Review (2021), no.31
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