Increasing COVID-19 Vaccination Intentions: A Field Experiment on Psychological Ownership

Keppeler, F., Sievert, M., & Jilke, S. (2022). Increasing COVID-19 vaccination intentions: A field experiment on psychological ownership. Behavioural Public Policy. doi:10.1017/bpp.2022.16

20 Pages Posted: 19 Aug 2021 Last revised: 20 Jun 2022

See all articles by Florian Keppeler

Florian Keppeler

Aarhus 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 against the SARS-CoV-2 virus, government agencies face the challenge of promoting vaccine uptake. Thus, encouraging vaccine uptake marks an urgent policy 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 residents nested in 6,442 addresses) delivered to all registered residents of a German municipality via an official mailing campaign. The campaign included a psychological ownership intervention designed to boost residents’ intentions to get vaccinated – measured through unique link clicks on a municipal website where people can schedule a COVID-19 vaccination appointment. Findings suggest that adding possessive pronouns (i.e., ‘YOUR vaccination’) increases vaccination intentions by 39%,
or 2.5 percentage points (p < 0.0001 [95% CI = 1.8%, 3.3%], control letter: 6.4%, treatment letter: 8.9%). The discussion outlines the value of using psychological ownership-based nudge interventions to increase vaccine uptake and other desirable behaviors.

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: Psychological ownership, field experiment, COVID-19, vaccination, nudge

JEL Classification: M38, H83, H41, I18

Suggested Citation

Keppeler, Florian and Sievert, Martin and Jilke, Sebastian, Increasing COVID-19 Vaccination Intentions: A Field Experiment on Psychological Ownership (September 17, 2021). Keppeler, F., Sievert, M., & Jilke, S. (2022). Increasing COVID-19 vaccination intentions: A field experiment on psychological ownership. Behavioural Public Policy. doi:10.1017/bpp.2022.16 , Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3905470 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3905470

Florian Keppeler (Contact Author)

Aarhus University ( email )

Department of Political Science
Bartholins Allé 7
Aarhus, Midtjylland 8000
Denmark

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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