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http://ssrn.com/abstract=1160654
 
 

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Who Fears the HPV Vaccine, Who Doesn't, and Why? An Experimental Study of the Mechanisms of Cultural Cognition


Dan M. Kahan


Yale University - Law School; Harvard University - Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics

Donald Braman


George Washington University - Law School; Cultural Cognition Project

Geoffrey L. Cohen


University of Colorado - Department of Psychology

Paul Slovic


Decision Research; University of Oregon - Department of Psychology

John Gastil


Pennsylvania State University

July 15, 2008

Law and Human Behavior, Vol. 34, pp. 501-16, 2010
Cultural Cognition Project Working Paper No. 38
Harvard Law School Program on Risk Regulation Research Paper No. 08-19
Yale Law School, Public Law Working Paper No. 163

Abstract:     
The cultural cognition hypothesis holds that individuals are disposed to form risk perceptions that reflect and reinforce their commitments to contested views of the good society. This paper reports the results of a study that used the controversy over mandatory HPV vaccination to test the cultural cognition hypothesis. Although public health officials have recommended that all girls aged 11 or 12 be vaccinated for HPV - a virus that causes cervical cancer and that is transmitted by sexual contact - political controversy has blocked adoption of mandatory school-enrollment vaccination programs in all but one state. A multi-stage experimental study of a large and diverse sample of American adults (N = 1,500) found evidence that cultural cognition generates disagreement about the risks and benefits of the HPV vaccine. It does so, the experiment determined, through two mechanisms: biased assimilation, and the credibility heuristic. In addition to describing the study, the paper discusses the theoretical and practical implications of these findings.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 49

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Date posted: July 17, 2008 ; Last revised: April 16, 2013

Suggested Citation

Kahan, Dan M. and Braman, Donald and Cohen, Geoffrey L. and Slovic, Paul and Gastil, John, Who Fears the HPV Vaccine, Who Doesn't, and Why? An Experimental Study of the Mechanisms of Cultural Cognition (July 15, 2008). Law and Human Behavior, Vol. 34, pp. 501-16, 2010; Cultural Cognition Project Working Paper No. 38; Harvard Law School Program on Risk Regulation Research Paper No. 08-19; Yale Law School, Public Law Working Paper No. 163. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1160654

Contact Information

Dan M. Kahan (Contact Author)
Yale University - Law School ( email )
P.O. Box 208215
New Haven, CT 06520-8215
United States
HOME PAGE: http://www.culturalcognition.net/kahan
Harvard University - Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics ( email )
124 Mount Auburn Street
Suite 520N
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Donald Braman
George Washington University - Law School ( email )
2000 H Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20052
United States
Cultural Cognition Project ( email )
2000 H St NW
2000 H Street
Washington, DC 20052 20052
United States
202-491-8843 (Phone)
202 491-8843 (Fax)
HOME PAGE: http://www.culturalcognition.net/braman
Geoffrey L. Cohen
University of Colorado - Department of Psychology ( email )
1070 Edinboro Drive
Boulder, CO 80309
United States
HOME PAGE: http://psych.colorado.edu/~social/faculty.html
Paul Slovic
Decision Research ( email )
1201 Oak Street, Suite 200
Eugene, OR 97401
United States
541-485-2400 (Phone)
541-485-2403 (Fax)
HOME PAGE: http://www.decisionresearch.org
University of Oregon - Department of Psychology ( email )
Eugene, OR 97403
United States
541-485-2400 (Phone)
John Gastil
Pennsylvania State University ( email )
University Park, PA 16802
United States
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