Confidence and Collective Responsibility can improve the effectiveness of vaccination campaigns among students

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Annelot Wismans, PhD candidate at Erasmus School of Economics, is one of the authors of a paper which explains students’ COVID-19 vaccination intention, based on psychological characteristics and the mediating role of a so called 5C Model. The paper is the result of a joint project between Erasmus School of Economics, Erasmus School of Social and Behavioural Sciences, University of Namur, UCLouvain and the University of Lisbon. Wismans and her fellow researchers found that confidence in the vaccine and the system that delivers it and the willingness to protect others by getting vaccinated play a crucial role in deciding to get vaccinated for students.

Based on data that were collected in December 2020, most students have a positive propensity toward getting vaccinated against COVID-19: 85% of students indicated intentions between ‘probably’ and ‘definitely’. Though only 41% of these students were completely sure about getting vaccinated. Almost 1 out of 10 students indicated a negative propensity toward COVID-19 vaccination, with only a very small group indicating to definitely refuse the vaccination (1.6%).

Aim of study: understanding the main drivers of getting vaccinated

Since younger people are less likely to suffer from the negative health consequences of COVID-19 infection, it is important to know what the main drivers of getting vaccinated are for these individuals. The study had three goals. First, the researchers assessed the intention to get vaccinated in a sample on a scale ranging from completely resistant to completely acceptant. Second, they used a validated model on vaccination antecedents – the 5C Model - to study which antecedents are most important in explaining vaccination intention of students. Integrating previous literature on vaccination behaviour, The 5C model consists of five drivers of vaccination: Confidence (i.e., trust in the effectiveness and safety of vaccines and in the system that delivers them), Complacency (i.e., perceived risk of diseases and perceived level of threat), Constraints (i.e., structural psychological and physical barriers), Calculation (i.e., individuals’ engagement in extensive information searching) and Collective responsibility (i.e., willingness to protect others by getting vaccinated). Third, they investigated which psychological variables, including COVID-19 vaccine-related and COVID-19-related attitudes and personality traits, affect vaccination intention through the 5Cs. In this way, they aimed to understand for which groups reaching desirable levels of these 5Cs and, thereby, vaccination intention may be more problematic.

‘Confidence and Collective Responsibility play major role in explaining vaccination intention of students’

Annelot Wismans: ‘Confidence and Collective Responsibility were found to be most strongly related to vaccination intention. By using mediation analyses, our study shows the importance of psychological profiles in explaining vaccination intention. We identify that the level of Confidence is lower for students in our sample who perceive the vaccine as being riskier (e.g., less safe and with a higher risk of side effects) and less effective, which consequently lowers vaccination intention. Moreover, higher trust in the government and health authorities indirectly relates to higher vaccination intention through higher Confidence. Also, students in our sample who perceive the risk of COVID-19 for their environment to be low indicate a lower intention to get vaccinated against COVID-19, motivated by a lower feeling of Collective Responsibility. Finally, we show that several personality traits – altruism, the need to belong and psychopathy – play an important role in explaining the perception of vaccination as a Collective Responsibility. Students with higher levels of altruism, a higher need to belong and lower psychopathy traits have higher levels of Collective Responsibility, which indirectly relates to higher COVID-19 vaccination intention.’

The full team of authors consists or Roy Thurik (Erasmus School of Economics), Ingmar Franken (Erasmus School of Social and Behavioral Sciences), Rui Baptista (University of Lisbon), Marcus Dejardin (University of Namur, UCLouvain) and Frank Janssen (UCLouvain).

Doctoral student
More information

Link to the paper: Psychological characteristics and the mediating role of the 5C Model in explaining students’ COVID-19 vaccination intention (

Read also this interview with Annelot Wismans of 25 May 2020

For more information, please contact Media and Public Relations Officer Ronald de Groot, or by mobile: +31 6 53 641 846.

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