Participants were given brief descriptions of a number of hypothetical people and asked to think that they are someone whom one of their close relatives wishes to marry. The outcome of the study found prejudice against the COVID-19 unvaccinated around the world.
According to a recent research of more than 15,000 people from 21 different nations, those who have gotten the COVID-19 immunization show prejudiced attitudes toward those who have not received the vaccine.
“Individuals who comply with the advice of health authorities morally condemn the unvaccinated for violating a social contract in the midst of a crisis,” stated two Danish academics in a paper published Thursday in Nature (read below). “Those who refuse vaccines report that they feel discriminated and pressured against their will.”
To assess COVID-19 vaccination status-based prejudice, researchers questioned 15,233 respondents how they would respond if one of their close relatives married a vaccinated or unvaccinated person—a query which has traditionally been used in surveys on racial, ethnic, or partisan discrimination.
Participants were given brief descriptions of a number of hypothetical people and asked to think that they are someone whom one of their close relatives wishes to marry. They were presented two profiles side by side and asked to rate each one by indicating whether they agreed or disagreed with statements like, “I would be unhappy if this person married one of my close relatives,” and “I think this person is untrustworthy.”
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One of the six characteristics identifying these individuals was their COVID-19 vaccination status, which varied randomly between “fully vaccinated” and “unvaccinated.” Other characteristics included age, career, hobbies, personality, and “family background,” which differentiated between individuals “born and raised in [the respondent’s country]” and those who “immigrated from the Middle East”.
Throughout all six countries—Germany, India, Indonesia, Morocco, South Africa, and the United Kingdom—chosen to portray both affluent Western and developing non-Western countries, the unvaccinated were discovered to be detested by vaccinated individuals (14 percentage points) as much as people with drug addiction (15 percentage points), and substantially more so than individuals who had been in prison (10 percentage points), atheists (7 percentage points), or people with mental illness (6 percentage points).
Furthermore, amongst vaccinated individuals, the overall disdain of the unvaccinated (13 percentage points) was found to be two and a half times higher than that of Middle Eastern immigrants (5 percentage points). In fact, the report claims that unvaccinated individuals encounter substantially more hostility than immigrants, even in ten countries traditionally hostile to immigrants. Discrimination against unvaccinated Middle Eastern immigrants was discovered to be equally as strong as discrimination against unvaccinated natives.
The unvaccinated respondents, on the other hand, had essentially no prejudiced sentiments against the vaccinated, according to the study’s findings.
“The results demonstrate that prejudice is mostly one-sided,” the authors wrote. “Only in [the] United States and Germany do we find that the unvaccinated feel some antipathy towards the vaccinated. But even here we do not find statistical evidence in favor of negative stereotyping or exclusionary attitudes.”
“The observation that vaccinated individuals discriminate against those who are unvaccinated, but that there is no evidence for the reverse, is consistent with work on the psychology of cooperation,” said lead author Alexander Bor, a political psychologist at George Soros-funded Central European University (CEU).
A Psychological Explanation
According to the study, this aversion can be explained by a psychological response against “free-riding.” In other words, a highly divisive and moralized attitude toward the COVID-19 immunization activated this process in individuals who had already received the vaccination, leading them to perceive others who chose not to receive the shot as morally failing “free riders” of a group effort.
This could also illustrate why unvaccinated people experience more prejudice in cultures with deeper cooperative conflicts. “Vaccinated individuals in cultures with stronger cooperative norms are shown to react more negatively against those who are unvaccinated,” Bor said in a CEU news release.
“In the short run, prejudice towards the unvaccinated may complicate pandemic management. In the long run, it may mean that societies leave the pandemic more divided than they entered it,” the authors wrote, recommending that authorities should avoid employing moralistic rhetoric that could foster deep hostility among residents during a “social crisis”.
The research was predicated on data gathered from 21 nations between December 3, 2021 and January 28, 2022: Argentina, Australia, Austria, Brazil, China, Denmark, France, Germany, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Italy, Malaysia, Mexico, Morocco, Romania, Russia, South Africa, Spain, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Each nation was represented by at least 500 individuals who were quota-sampled to reflect its population in terms of age, gender, and region of residence.
The poorest nations, where COVID-19 vaccines were not yet widely accessible to the general public, were purposefully left out of the study, according to researchers.
Read the document below: