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
Date Written: September 17, 2021
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: Suggested Citation