The psychology behind why some people still don’t want the COVID-19 vaccine

As COVID-19 digits increase yet again here in Michigan, some striking truths emerge. The first is that the delta variant is very aggressive and is believed to be the source of the vast majority of new cases of COVID-19, the second is that these new cases aren’t just happening in unvaccinated people, and the third truth is that there are still so many currently unvaccinated people in Michigan and across the country. A psychology professor explains why, despite the threat posed by delta, so many people still refuse the vaccine, and what health experts and the vaccinated public can do to try to change that.

Listen: Psychology professor David Dunning explains why so many people refuse to get the COVID-19 vaccine even with threat of delta variant.


David Dunning is professor of psychology at the University of Michigan. Dunning points out that the reasons someone might not want the vaccine are as diverse as the unvaccinated population itself. “They don’t know what that entails, they might be afraid of needles, they might worry about how fast it has developed… and ideology is sometimes involved as well,” says Dunning. Examining the implications of historical mistrust in the medical community, Dunning notes that it is important to remember this legacy for non-white communities. “If you are not white, you know a story that can make you tired of what the medical industry can tell you to do,” he says.

When it comes to convincing people to get vaccinated, Dunning suggests a variety of approaches and notes the importance of approaching the subject with authenticity and care. “It’s about whether or not that person trusts the person telling them about the vaccine. This is not the information… this is what is happening to that person in their life. Can you find out what interests them? Like their family, for example, ”says Dunning. He adds that sometimes helping someone think about the vaccination process can be very helpful. “Talk to someone who is reluctant to get the shot at the thought of making a plan to get the shot… if you want to be pushy, you can even ask them for a commitment… for example, asking someone: “?

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