Effects of Political versus Expert Messaging on Vaccination Intentions of Trump Voters

9 Pages Posted: 11 May 2021

See all articles by Christopher T. Robertson

Christopher T. Robertson

Boston University; University of Arizona - James E. Rogers College of Law; Harvard University - Petrie-Flom Center for Health Law Policy, Biotechnology, and Bioethics

Keith Bentele

Southwest Institute for Research on Women

Beth Meyerson

Southwest Institute for Research on Women

Jacqueline Salwa

Harvard Law School

Alexander S. A. Wood

University of Arizona

Date Written: May 6, 2021

Abstract

To increase COVID-19 vaccine uptake in resistant populations, such as Republicans, focus groups suggest that it is best to de-politicize the issue by sharing five facts from a public health expert. Yet polls suggest that Trump voters trust former President Donald Trump for medical advice more than they trust experts. We sought to test the efficacy of these alternative approaches for effective vaccine communication – facts delivered by an expert versus political claims delivered by President Trump endorsing the vaccine. We conducted an online, randomized, national experiment among 387 non-vaccinated Trump voters, using two brief audiovisual artifacts from Spring 2021. Relative to the control group, Trump voters who viewed the video of Trump endorsing the vaccine were 85% more likely to answer “yes” as opposed to “no” in their intention to get fully vaccinated (RRR = 1.85, 95% CI 1.01 to 3.40; P = .048). There were no significant differences between those hearing the public health expert excerpt and the control group (for “yes” relative to “no” RRR = 1.14, 95% CI 0.61 to 2.12; P = .68). These findings suggest that a political speaker’s endorsement of the COVID-19 vaccine may increase uptake among those who identify with that speaker. Contrary to highly-publicized focus group findings, our randomized experiment found that an expert’s factually accurate message may not be effectual to increase vaccination intentions.

Suggested Citation

Robertson, Christopher T. and Bentele, Keith and Meyerson, Beth and Salwa, Jacqueline and Wood, Alexander S. A., Effects of Political versus Expert Messaging on Vaccination Intentions of Trump Voters (May 6, 2021). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3840933 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3840933

Christopher T. Robertson (Contact Author)

Boston University ( email )

765 Commonwealth Avenue
Boston, MA 02215
United States
6179100649 (Phone)
02215 (Fax)

University of Arizona - James E. Rogers College of Law ( email )

P.O. Box 210176
Tucson, AZ 85721-0176
United States

Harvard University - Petrie-Flom Center for Health Law Policy, Biotechnology, and Bioethics ( email )

23 Everett Street
Cambridge, MA 02155
United States

Keith Bentele

Southwest Institute for Research on Women ( email )

925 N. Tyndall Ave
Tucson, AZ 85719
United States

Beth Meyerson

Southwest Institute for Research on Women ( email )

925 N. Tyndall Ave
Tucson, AZ 85719
United States

HOME PAGE: http://https://sirow.arizona.edu/beth-meyerson-mdiv-phd

Jacqueline Salwa

Harvard Law School ( email )

Cambridge, MA
United States

Alexander S. A. Wood

University of Arizona ( email )

Department of History
Tucson, AZ 85721
United States

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