Psychologists explore how best to convince vaccine skeptics to reconsider

A team of psychologists from UCLA and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign published research that suggests vaccine skeptics can be convinced to vaccinate their children if the argument is presented in a certain way.

The study involved separating a group of 315 adults into three groups: one was given vaccine reading material from the CDC that countered the skeptical parents' concerns, one was given reading materials that described the dangers of measles, mumps and rubella and included pictures of children infected with the diseases, and the control group was given a statement to read that was unrelated to the topic of childhood vaccines.

People with positive attitudes and those with negative attitudes toward vaccines were equally represented in each of the three groups.

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Neither the CDC materials that tried to counter the negative arguments against vaccines nor the unrelated reading material changed parents' opinions.

Among group members who were skeptical about or very opposed to vaccines, the reading materials that highlighted the dangers of infectious disease and the positive reasons to vaccinate children increased support of vaccinations substantially.

"People who are skeptical about vaccines are concerned about the safety of their children," said Derek Powell, a UCLA graduate student in psychology and co-lead author of the study. "They want their kids to be healthy. That's also what doctors want. Instead of fighting their misconception, remind them why the vaccine is the best way to keep their kids safe."



More articles on vaccines:
Vanderbilt UMC becomes first scientific hub for Human Vaccines Project
Researchers develop aerosolized Ebola vaccine: 3 things to know
Parents' vaccine views are shifting: 5 things providers should know

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