Increasing COVID-19 Vaccination Intentions Through a Local Government Vaccination Campaign: A Field Experiment on Psychological Ownership

40 Pages Posted: 19 Aug 2021 Last revised: 17 Sep 2021

See all articles by Florian Keppeler

Florian Keppeler

Zeppelin University

Martin Sievert

University of Mannheim

Sebastian Jilke

McCourt School of Public Policy; Georgetown University

Date Written: September 17, 2021

Abstract

With the increasing availability of life-saving vaccines protecting against the SARS-CoV-2 virus, government agencies worldwide face the challenge of promoting individual vaccine uptake. Encouraging citizens to contribute to the public good “herd immunity” marks an important and urgent challenge in fighting the COVID-19 pandemic. This study builds on the theory of psychological ownership to design a behaviorally-inspired local government vaccination campaign. We conducted a large-scale, cluster randomized field experiment (N=27,298 citizens nested in 6,442 addresses) delivered to citizens via an official letter of the local administration. The letter includes a psychological ownership intervention designed to boost citizens’ willingness to get vaccinated. Findings suggest adding possessive pronouns, i.e., “YOUR vaccination”, can increase vaccination willingness from 6.4% in the control letter without textual amendments to 8.9% in the treatment condition – a 2.5 percentage points difference (39%; p < .001 [95% CI=1.8%, 3.3%]). This successful real-world test of the psychological ownership mechanism in the COVID-19 context might be helpful to enrich information campaigns of public authorities to increase individual contributions to public goods.

Note: Funding: None to declare

Declaration of Interests: None to declare

Ethics Approval Statement: We received the ethical approvement of Zeppelin University, Friedrichshafen, Germany.

Keywords: local government, psychological ownership, field experiment, COVID-19, vaccination

JEL Classification: M38, H83, H41, I18

Suggested Citation

Keppeler, Florian and Sievert, Martin and Jilke, Sebastian, Increasing COVID-19 Vaccination Intentions Through a Local Government Vaccination Campaign: A Field Experiment on Psychological Ownership (September 17, 2021). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3905470 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3905470

Florian Keppeler (Contact Author)

Zeppelin University ( email )

Am Seemooser Horn 20
Friedrichshafen, Lake Constance 88045
Germany

Martin Sievert

University of Mannheim ( email )

L5, 4
Mannheim, 68161
Germany

Sebastian Jilke

McCourt School of Public Policy; Georgetown University ( email )

Washington, DC 20057
United States

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