Examining implicit neural bias against vaccine hesitancy

Annika Hautala, Annika Kluge, Boaz Hameiri, Niloufar Zebarjadi, Jonathan Levy*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)
88 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

COVID-19 pandemic has changed the world in many ways. At the societal level, disparities in attitudes toward the COVID-19 vaccines have led to polarization and intense animosity. In this study, we use a novel paradoxical thinking intervention that was found to be effective in difficult and violent intergroup contexts, and measure its effectiveness in a novel unobtrusive way in an important and timely context, namely prejudice against vaccine hesitancy. In the midst of a vaccination campaign, 36 young Finnish adults either went through the intervention or through a control condition. Magnetoencephalography then measured a neural response that is thought to reflect intergroup bias and possibly implicit prejudice. This neural response was reduced among the participants receiving the intervention, compared to the control group, thereby suggesting a potential mechanism of intergroup bias that is affected by a psychological intervention even during a campaign that castigates aggressively vaccine-hesitant individuals. The findings reported here contribute to the recent accumulating evidence of the potential of neuroimaging to reveal covert mental effects by psychological interventions. They may also have societal implications for moderating the polarized attitudes in a new era of pandemics.
Original languageEnglish
JournalSocial Neuroscience
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 28 Dec 2022
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

Keywords

  • Vaccine hesitancy
  • alpha rhythm
  • Implicit neural prejudice
  • intergroup bias
  • implicit association test (IAT)

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