The Persuasion Game: Manipulating Intention to Get a Covid-19 Vaccine

By the Children’s Health Defense Team

Last December, the world’s leading vaccine experts met in Geneva and acknowledged that vaccine confidence was in the toilet. Despite the public health establishment’s best efforts to mock and dissipate “vaccine hesitancy,” these experts, convened by the World Health Organization (WHO), confessed that the number of citizens and health professionals raising questions about vaccine safety was spiraling out of their control. One of the attendees—a WHO-affiliated anthropologist who has made a career out of fine-tuning vaccine messaging and rebranding vaccine concerns as “rumors”—even admitted that there was no legitimate science to back up vaccine proponents’ bald assertions about safety.

As if by magic, SARS-CoV-2 and Covid-19 materialized early in 2020, just in time to recast vaccines as a solution rather than a problem. In fact, vaccines have been given a starring role in the tense global drama that is unfolding, with the media misleadingly promoting them as the best and even only “path to immunity.” Frustratingly for the vaccine pushers, this daily barrage of propaganda has not only failed to achieve its intended effect but is trending in the wrong direction. In the most recent poll, two out of five Americans (40%) indicated that they do not intend to get a Covid-19 vaccine, and the percentage voicing interest in a vaccine displayed a 10% drop since May.

Stumped by this recalcitrance, behavioral scientists have decided to take the persuasion game in hand, availing themselves of the bonanza of research dollars suddenly on offer for anything Covid-19-related. On July 8, Yale University quietly completed a randomized controlled trial assessing the impact of “Persuasive Messages for COVID-19 Vaccine Uptake,” and in late August, Vanderbilt University issued a press release summarizing results from a similar study. (The same types of studies are also being conducted to determine how best to convince people to socially isolate themselves, social distance and wear masks.) Both Yale and Vanderbilt happen to be hosting clinical trials for Covid-19 vaccines, and both institutions’ persuasion studies operate from the insulting premise that individuals making independent vaccine choices are cowardly, selfish and unscientific. Equally insultingly, the university researchers appear to believe that the ignorant masses can be manipulated into a different way of thinking if exposed to the proper messaging.

Variations on a Theme

The Yale group wrapped up its survey in five days, randomizing 4,000 people to one of 12 groups to experiment with different strategies for manipulating attitudes and future behavior. With the exception of two control groups, each remaining group received one of 10 messages designed to tip the respondent into willingness to get a Covid-19 vaccine “once the vaccine becomes available.” The messages tweaked themes pertaining to freedom (personal or economic), social or economic benefit,  social pressure, trust in science, and bravery. In the latter group, for example, the message held up firefighters, doctors and frontline medical workers as the standard-bearers for bravery, while stigmatizing individuals making the choice not to get a Covid-19 vaccine as “not brave.”

Although the Yale researchers were primarily interested in “intention to get a vaccine,” they also explored the impact of their messages on vaccine confidence, willingness to persuade others to take the vaccine and fear of the unvaccinated, showing that they intend to assail refusers from a variety of angles. In addition—in a blatant display of the divide-and-conquer shaming tactics that have been in use for quite some time—the survey measured “social judgment of those who do not vaccinate,” defined as “the trustworthiness, selfishness, likeableness, and competence of those who choose not to get vaccinated after a vaccine becomes available.”

Meanwhile, the Vanderbilt study assessed “personal risk preferences,” acknowledging that “immunization with a brand-new vaccine is a gamble.” After finding that the more “naturally willing” a person was to take risks, the more likely they were to say that they planned to be vaccinated, the investigator went further, experimenting with how to convince “risk-averse” people to take a Covid-19 vaccine. This second experiment compared one message emphasizing “social duty and benefit” (defined as herd immunity) with a second message emphasizing the hypothetical vaccine’s “high rate of effectiveness, limited side effects, and approval through a standardized and rigorous process.” For the risk-averse crowd, she found that while the herd immunity argument held some sway, the second (“safe and effective”) message completely bombed. […]


© 3 Sept 2020 Children’s Health Defense, Inc. This work is reproduced and distributed with the permission of Children’s Health Defense, Inc. Want to learn more from Children’s Health Defense? Sign up for free news and updates from Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. and the Children’s Health Defense. Your donation will help to support us in our efforts.

15 thoughts on “The Persuasion Game: Manipulating Intention to Get a Covid-19 Vaccine

  1. Pingback: The Persuasion Game: Manipulating Intention to Get a Covid-19 Vaccine | ~Burning Woman~

  2. We don’t need a vaccine. We need a small dab of individual intelligence. I don’t think I could trust anything the local, state, and federal governments are pushing when their track record has been complete and utter failure brought on by incompetence and political chicanery. If vaccines worked, we wouldn’t catch the flu, get a common cold, or any other viral threat identified over the last century. The answer is taking responsibility for our own health and immunity and realizing we have a responsibility to not let our sense of personal freedom murder innocent children and the elderly by spreading disease. It isn’t rocket science.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Overall, I tend to agree with you, Hyperion. It’s a pity Western doctors know so little about nutrition, gut bacteria and immunity. If they had sound training in this area, I think we could avoid most, if not all, the chronic illnesses that plague present society.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Quote: “… while stigmatizing individuals making the choice not to get a Covid-19 vaccine as” not brave. ”

    Actually in a reverse inference, isn’t it courage to choose not to vaccinate against the imposed in such an uncertain environment about the disease, with a natural reaction to something unknown? Which I am not anti-vaxxer, and even myself think like that. Also, I do not believe in any country’s vaccine studies except Cuba.

    By the way Dr.Bramhall have you seen this:

    According to WHO page:”Official names have been announced for the virus responsible for COVID-19 (previously known as “2019 novel coronavirus”) and the disease it causes.”
    So, how they used this(COVID-19) name for test kits in 2018, when it hasn’t yet been named.

    This must be a miracle.:))

    Kidding aside, I would like to go one step further and ask, if they knew and used the same name, and had the test kits for diagnostic in 2018, they have probably the vaccine of it? 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I don’t know much about the Cuban vaccine, migrarium, but what I read about the US and UK vaccines is extremely concerning. All US and UK experiments with retrovirus vaccines over the last decade have been a disaster. As I understand, the technology involves injecting people with RNA fragments to infect all their cells, the result being lots of nasty side effects, including infertility.

    Yes, I saw that WHO link. There seem to be more and more holes in the official story.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. After I’ve read your comment and learnt their vaccine tech use RNA fragments to infect all the cells, I’ve researched, it seems awful! I did not have, actually I still don’t have knowledge about vaccine or medical science and its branch. But as far as I understood its results may bad consequences in high percent like you said.

    About Cuba vaccine, Cuba covid-19 vaccine name is Soberana. If I remember right, they will start clinical trials on this month September. As for why I believe them, the first is as you know Dr. Bramhall, all over the world Cuban doctors really carried their knowledge and experience with great devotion. I think they are the ones who have the most detailed information about the disease outside of China, because they went to the most intense countries of the disease and the datas are in their hands. And their health system is in good shape despite all kinds of embargoes.

    On the other hand, Cuba, the most experienced country in the disease, is yet at the clinical stage, not even at the phase stage, while all other countries have immediately announced that they pass to phase stages and produce vaccines. It makes me doubt that why the others are so fast.

    You said: “Yes, I saw that WHO link. There seem to be more and more holes in the official story.” Indeed.:)


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