Attitudes to vaccination may change after the “corona crisis”
Scientific literacy is not important only for those who want to pursue science. Events of the last months and weeks show how important it is to understand results of scientific exploration so that we could make reasonable decisions, which fundamentally affect us. Scientists from the Centre of Social and Psychological Sciences of SAS surveyed Slovaks to find out how we are doing with scientific thinking and whether scientific thinking can help us in the time of the corona.
“The low scientific literacy of pupils is reported by below-average results in international PISA testing every year. It turned out that pupils do not understand scientific principles, but they have enough knowledge themselves. This moment has also prompted us to take a closer look at how scientifically we think at the time of coronavirus,” said Vladimíra Čavojová from the Institute of Experimental Psychology of the Centre of Social and Psychological Sciences, SAS.
Scientists launched a questionnaire survey at the beginning of March when the first cases of COVID_19 appeared in Slovakia.
“Our research clearly shows that scientific thinking protects us against various unsubstantiated beliefs such as conspiracy theories, pseudoscience, or belief in paranormal phenomena. It turned out that people with better scientific thinking have fewer conspiracy theories about the emergence, spread and treatment of the new coronavirus, as well as fewer conspiracy theories in general. It is also true that people with better scientific thinking have less confidence in alternative medicine,” says Jakub Šrol from the Institute of Experimental Psychology of the Centre of Social and Psychological Sciences, SAS.
Within this context, scientists have paid significant attention to the issue of vaccination.
“It didn´t surprise us that scientifically thinking people have also had more positive attitudes to vaccination. People with negative attitudes to vaccination have stated in our questionnaire that they did not get themselves an influenza vaccination. What was more interesting was the fact that the more negative attitudes to vaccination people had, the less willing they were to get vaccinated against coronavirus. Therefore, it seems that people who have already developed negative attitudes to vaccination are relatively consistent in their attitudes - even if irrational,” said Eva Ballová Mikušková from the Institute of Experimental Psychology of the Centre of Social and Psychological Sciences, SAS.
At the end of their study, psychologists from the Slovak Academy of Sciences express hope that attitudes to vaccination may indeed change after the current crisis has been overcome, especially as we feel more threatened at the moment. People expressed themselves in the questionnaire that the willingness to get vaccinated is mainly influenced by “hot” emotional factors, such as a feeling of threat or perception of risk.