Understanding the psychology of vaccination attitudes is arguably more important now than ever.
The authors of this article examine intellectual humility’s relationship with COVID-19 anti-vaccination and hesitant attitudes and intention to vaccinate using hierarchical regression and bivariate correlations. The authors define intellectual humility as a four-facet conceptualization:
- Independence of Intellect and Ego allows a person to be secure in their own opinions.
- Openness to Revising One’s Viewpoint allows a person to change their opinion if there is substantial alternative evidence
- Respect for Other’s Viewpoints facilitates civil discourse to occur.
- Lack of Intellectual Overconfidence helps a person sidestep intellectual arrogance.
Further, anti-vaccination and hesitant attitudes are conceptualized into another four-facet multidimensional conceptualization:
- Mistrust of Vaccine Benefit highlights people’s incredulity in vaccines’ ability to safeguard against infectious diseases.
- Worries about Vaccine’s Unforeseen Future Effects shows people’s concern over potential side effects.
- Concerns about Commercial Profiteering encapsulates concerns regarding the influence and role of pharmaceutical companies in the development and dissemination of vaccines.
- Preference for Natural Immunity reflects the inaccurate belief that natural immunity is superior to immunity obtained by vaccinations.
The authors hypothesized that intellectual humility would be negatively associated with anti-vaccine attitudes and that there would be a positive association with intellectual humility and intention to vaccinate. There were 351 participants (57.23% male, mean age = 37.41 years, SD = 11.51) that completed the scale for the multidimensional measures listed above. The authors found that intellectual humility and anti‐vaccination attitudes were negatively associated, r(349) = −.46, p < .001. The strongest relationships with overall anti‐vaccination attitudes were seen with Lack of Intellectual Overconfidence, r(349) = −.43, p < .001, and Independence of Intellect and Ego, r(349) = −.34, p < .001. Furthermore, intellectual humility had a strong correlation with Concerns about Commercial Profiteering, r(349) = −.52, p < .001, Preference for Natural Immunity, r(349) = −.45, p < .001, and Worries about Unforeseen Future Effects, r(349) = −.32, p < .001. Intellectual humility had a weak but significant correlation with Mistrust of Vaccine Benefits, r(349) = −.15, p = .005. The strongest relationship with vaccine intentions was Openness to Revising One’s Viewpoint, r(349) = .26, p < .001 and vaccine intentions were negatively correlated with overall anti‐vaccination attitudes, r(349) = −.50, p < .001. Overall, intellectual humility and intention to vaccinate were positively associated, r(349) = .20, p < .001. It is important to note that intellectual humility is not just a construct with philosophical implications but rather may be a construct of considerable practical utility. It has the potential to influence political attitudes, critical thinking and decision-making and even health-related behaviors.
Barriers to Vaccine Uptake
The authors of this review explore behaviors related to pediatric vaccine hesitancy and they propose recommendations for increasing vaccine uptake (all vaccines). They note that parental concerns regarding exposure to the COVID-19 have discouraged individuals who would otherwise have used primary preventive services like vaccinations and this has resulted in postponed/canceled medical appointment visits. Additionally restrictions on routine in-person office visits due to physical distancing protocols have greatly limited vaccine promotion by the provider due to decreased communication with the patient. Disruptions to vaccine delivery services have negatively impacted timely immunizations and this leaves children and adolescents at-risk of vaccine-preventable diseases. The authors also state that interventions and training should empower healthcare providers to disseminate evidence-based advice regarding the safety and efficacy of vaccines. For parents with religious or philosophical beliefs, healthcare providers should be knowledgeable on the fewer components of proteins and polysaccharides in vaccines that could serve to allay fears. Additionally, communication regarding societal norms that identify routine vaccination as a social responsibility could potentially increase vaccine uptake. Moreover, addressing parental concerns for sensitivity, needle pain, and adverse skin reactions and the adoption of motivational interview techniques could be beneficial. The authors conclude by stating that a multifaceted, multidisciplinary approach that involves science, engineering, and social sciences should be incorporated to further explore the barriers to childhood vaccine uptake and to comprehend the drivers for vaccine hesitancy, refusal, or delay. The application of Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence could be beneficial in achieving this as it may (a) identify trends, patterns, and prevalence of childhood vaccine uptake and vaccine-preventable illnesses; (b) investigate psychosocial factors and disparities influencing the uptake of vaccines; and (c) examine the interface between vaccine-preventable disease outbreaks and vaccine hesitancy/refusal.