Date of Award


Document Type

Honors Thesis (Open Access)


Colby College. Psychology Dept.


Thane S. Pittman


This study investigates methods for influencing decision-making regarding preventative vaccine shots. Specifically, the research assessed the influence of message framing on regret and future action likelihood. In Experiment 1, participants read information about an available vaccine shot that was either framed positively or negatively. Participants were told whether they decided to get the shot (action) or not get the shot (inaction) and rated their feelings of regret after being told they got sick, regardless of their decision. Results showed that participants who read the positively framed information experienced more regret overall than participants who read the information with the negative frame. Participants who did not get the shot also experienced more regret overall than those who did get the shot. When the frame was positive, participants who did not get the shot were significantly more likely to get a shot in the future than those who had gotten the shot. Experiment 2 examined the theory of inaction inertia and whether missing the first shot might decrease the likelihood of getting a similar shot in the future if the effectiveness of the second vaccine shot is lower than the first vaccine. Results showed that the likelihood of getting the second shot was significantly influenced by the effectiveness of the second vaccine, but was not influenced by the size of discrepancy between the effectiveness of the two vaccines. Results did not fully support the hypothesis for Experiment 2 and possible explanations are discussed.


framing, vaccine

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