Increasing COVID-19 Vaccination Intentions: A Field Experiment on Psychological Ownership

Florian Keppeler, Martin Sievert, Sebastian Jilke

Publikation: Bidrag til tidsskrift/Konferencebidrag i tidsskrift /Bidrag til avisTidsskriftartikelForskningpeer review


With the increasing availability of life-saving vaccines against the SARS-CoV-2 virus, government agencies face the challenge of promoting vaccine uptake. Thus, encouraging vaccine uptake marks an urgent policy challenge in fighting the COVID-19 pandemic. This study builds on the theory of psychological ownership to design a behaviorally-inspired local government vaccination campaign. We conducted a large-scale, cluster-randomized field experiment (N=27,298 residents nested in 6,442 addresses) delivered to all registered residents of a German municipality via an official mailing campaign. The campaign included a psychological ownership intervention designed to boost residents’ intentions to get vaccinated – measured through unique link clicks on a municipal website where people can schedule a COVID-19 vaccination appointment. Findings suggest that adding possessive pronouns (i.e., “YOUR vaccination”) increases vaccination intentions by 39 per cent, or 2.5 percentage points (p < .0001 [95 per cent CI=1.8 per cent, 3.3 per cent], control letter: 6.4 per cent, treatment letter: 8.9 per cent). The discussion outlines the value of using psychological ownership-based nudge interventions to increase vaccine uptake and other desirable behaviors.
TidsskriftBehavioral Public Policy
StatusE-pub ahead of print - 17 jun. 2022


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