• Kalle Noble

Persuasion Analysis: Covid-19 Vaccine

An interview and analysis on persuading an Individual to receive the Covid-19 vaccine.


I interviewed Soren, who is 24, and is Caucasian. Soren wears a mask and social distances, but he is adverse towards receiving the vaccine. When asked about his thoughts, Soren wrote, “I got it my grandma got it my boss also died of it and someone my mom knew son age 23 also died and I still think it’s a fucking joke the weak should die and I want my job back.” Soren seems to heavily associate COVID-19 with the flu, he stated that he has not been sick for five years and has never received a flu vaccination because he believes those who live a healthy lifestyle will be unaffected.

He has only been vaccinated for things that you need in order to leave the country or to attend schools. He stated he may eventually get vaccinated if it is required for traveling to different countries. Soren stated that he is not motivated by social pressure or to keep his family safe, he believes that natural selection should take place in order to keep future generations healthy. His main issues with the vaccine are that he does not believe it is effective towards the multiple strains of COVID-19 and he believes that COVID-19 has little effect on him, so he sees it as an unnecessary substance to put in his body. He stated that if it posed a greater threat to himself that he would likely take the vaccine.

Message Strategy

Soren’s barrier seems to be that he feels as though he is not susceptible COVID-19. Since he has deep feelings about this, the messaging should be informative and go through central processing. Since he is open to the vaccine, the persuasion tactic should not require multiple messages to eventually nudge him towards getting the vaccine. Given that Soren explained that much of his lack of motivation towards receiving the vaccine was an issue of lack of perceived susceptibility of the corona virus for himself, it has lead me to believe that the Protection Motivation Model would be most effective in persuading him to receive the vaccine.

Using PMM, a message could be crafted that better suites Soren. Since he tended to correlate motivation for taking the vaccine with fear. This is especially the case since he stated that if the virus posed a greater threat to himself, then he would consider the vaccine much much more. PMM is based around four cognitions of fear appeals. For the first appeal, the messaging would require information about the severity of the virus. Since he seems to already acknowledge the severity of the virus for others, this part could be less used than the following fear appeals. The second appeal is susceptibility, since Soren doesn’t believe the virus affects healthy people like himself, this would need to be played up a lot more. Information on how healthy individuals have both died or had lasting affects after surviving covid could be useful for this, as well as evidence on how reinfections of COVID-19 can be more dangerous than first time infections. The third appeal, response efficacy would be the second most important aspect of the messaging. This is due to his lack of trust in the vaccine to be preventative towards the different strains of COVID-19, so information on the current trials being ran with the new strains would be important. The fourth appeal, self-efficacy, ties it all together. For this, there would need to be provided information on how he can receive the vaccine to ensure that it happens and seems possible to obtain.

Potential Pitfalls

The main potential for this messaging to fail comes from a few sources. The first is if the components of the model is too weak. The one I believe to have the most potential to be too weak is susceptibility, since there still remains a small amount of cases in which both young and healthy people received downsides towards themselves for getting COVID-19. This could end up being played off internally as something that would not happen to him because of the low percentage of cases. The second is if the fear appeal were to cause emotions other than fear that are stronger. Lastly, fear appeals generally work better on those who are older, so this statistic combined with the knowledge that COVID-19 is less dangerous for younger people is a bad combination for fear appeals.