The Behavioral Immune System and Vaccination Intentions During the Coronavirus Pandemic

Linda C Karlsson*, Anna Soveri, Stephan Lewandowsky, Linnea Karlsson, Hasse Karlsson, Saara Nolvi, Max Karukivi, Mikael Lindfelth, Jan Antfolk

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)
73 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

The behavioral immune system is considered to be a psychological adaptation that decreases the risk of infection. Research suggests that, in the current environment, this system can produce attitudes with negative health consequences, such as increased vaccine hesitancy. In three studies, we investigated whether two facets of the behavioral immune system—germ aversion (i.e., aversion to potential pathogen transmission) and perceived infectability (i.e., perceived susceptibility to disease)—predicted intentions to accept COVID-19 and influenza vaccination during the pandemic. The behavioral immune system mechanisms were measured before the COVID-19 pandemic in one study, and during the pandemic in two. In contrast to previous research, those with higher germ aversion during the pandemic perceived vaccines to be safer and had higher intentions to accept vaccination. Germ aversion before the pandemic was not associated with vaccination intentions. Individuals who perceived themselves as more susceptible to disease were slightly more willing to accept vaccination. We conjecture that high disease threat reverses the relationship between the behavioral immune system response and vaccination. As the associations were weak, individual differences in germ aversion and
perceived infectability are of little practical relevance for vaccine uptake.
Original languageEnglish
Article number111295
JournalPersonality and Individual Differences
Volume185
Issue number111295
Early online date2 Oct 2021
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the doctoral network of Minority Research at Åbo Akademi University ; the Academy of Finland [grant numbers 316004 and 316726 ]; and the Polin Institute .

Funding Information:
This project has received funding from the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 964728 (JITSUVAX).

Funding Information:
This project has received funding from the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 964728 (JITSUVAX).This work was supported by the doctoral network of Minority Research at ?bo Akademi University; the Academy of Finland [grant numbers 316004 and 316726]; and the Polin Institute.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 The Author(s)

Structured keywords

  • Cognitive Science
  • Covid19
  • TeDCog

Keywords

  • COVID-19
  • Coronavirus
  • Vaccination
  • Vaccine hesitancy
  • Behavioral immune system
  • Perceived vulnerability to disease
  • Disgust

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