In addition to the questions about the virus itself, last year we had all sorts of social, ethical and legal questions about compliance with the rules and about vaccinations. Can you force compliance with rules or vaccinations? Who follows the rules and who does not? Was the communication clear enough, and did different groups in society benefit? And how do we keep it up?
Prof. Dr. Semiha Denktaş
"We therefore call on the government to communicate more clearly"
"Support for keeping a distance seems to be waning. There is also a lack of clarity about the usefulness of using mouth masks. We therefore call on the government to communicate more clearly, to help citizens adhere to behavioural measures." - These are the first sentences of a letter that Semiha Denktas drafted together with ten other professors to NRC Handelsblad. The government must take the lead in good communication; much repetition is essential, they argue.
In addition, Denktaş, professor of health psychology at the Erasmus School of Social and Behavioural Sciences, sounded the alarm about increasing inequality. "The inequality within the academic world is growing: men publish more scientific articles and are awarded more grants than their female colleagues," is the conclusion of the white paper from the Diversity & Inclusion Office.
Studio Erasmus Podcast - Semiha Denktaş on diversity at the university (in Dutch)
Semiha Denktaş in the news
"Eighty per cent want to obey the rules, but young people - through no fault of their own - are more likely to find themselves in situations where it is difficult to do so"
Moniek Buijzen was, together with Semiha Denktas, one of the other signatories of the open letter on corona communication. They were also both members of the Scientific Advisory Board of the RIVM Corona Behavioural Unit-and in that role they gave a lot of advice. Her work as Professor of Behavioural Change at the Erasmus School of Social and Behavioural Sciences, focuses in particular on communication to young people. They were less compliant, but the communication towards them was not always good either, and the stigmatisation was high. Buijzen hopes that society will stop stigmatising young people. "The second wave was not specifically caused by them, but by people with a rich social life." Her research shows that eighty percent of young people do want to follow the rules, but sometimes find it difficult to do so because of their living conditions, for example. Her '10 tips for youth communication' are widely used.
Moniek Buijzen in the news
"The policy of the Dutch government makes a strong appeal to the population's sense of responsibility".
Professor of behavioural economics at the Erasmus School of Economics (ESE) Kirsten Rohde, together with Professor Job van Exel (ESHPM) and PhD candidate Merel van Hulsen (ESE), investigated the social dilemmas surrounding measures. The researchers found that a significant proportion of the population voluntarily complies with the advised rules. This applies to a greater extent to people who consider the consequences of their behaviour for others and for the future, and to people with a higher risk of contamination. It also appears that Dutch people who think that others comply better with the rules, also comply better with the rules themselves. Other research by Rohde with Van Exel and Hulsen shows that the Dutch had confidence in doctors and experts when it came to making well-considered decisions about the distribution of ICU beds.
Kirsten Rohde in the news
"Now that the number of antivax people seems to be so large, I think it's reasonable to start thinking about forced vaccination"
Can you, or should you, force people to vaccinate? According to Martin Buijsen, professor of health law at Erasmus School of Law, much is justified for the protection of public health. "If someone is denied access to an aircraft, that cuts across the wishes of someone who wants to fly. However, an airline wants to take into account the health of fellow passengers, and that health interest then probably weighs more heavily." In a campaign for flu vaccination among staff at Zeeland's nursing homes, Buijsen saw a willingness of only 20 per cent, which now makes him sceptical about vaccination readiness. In the vaccination campaign against corona, the individual right to refuse vaccination will have to make way for the collective goal: immunity, he argues.