Neth, Hansjörg

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Explicit discrimination and ingroup favoritism, but no implicit biases in hypothetical triage decisions during COVID-19

2024, Gradwohl, Nico, Neth, Hansjörg, Giese, Helge, Gaissmaier, Wolfgang

Disturbingly realistic triage scenarios during the COVID-19 pandemic provide an opportunity for studying discrimination in moral reasoning. Biases and favoritism do not need to be explicit and overt, but can remain implicit and covert. In addition to assessing laypeople’s propensity for engaging in overt discrimination, the present study examines whether they reveal implicit biases through seemingly fair random allocations. We present a cross-sectional online study comprising 6 timepoints and a total of 2296 participants. Each individual evaluated 19 hypothetical scenarios that provide an allocation dilemma between two patients who are in need of ventilation and differ only in one focal feature. Participants could either allocate the last ventilator to a patient, or opt for random allocation to express impartiality. Overall, participants exhibited clear biases for the patient who was expected to be favored based on health factors, previous ethical or caretaking behaviors, and in-group favoritism. If one patient had been pre-allocated care, a higher probability of keeping the ventilator for the favored patient indicates persistent favoritism. Surprisingly, the absence of an asymmetry in random allocations indicates the absence of covert discrimination. Our results demonstrate that laypeople’s hypothetical triage decisions discriminate overtly and show explicit biases.


The echo in flu-vaccination echo chambers : Selective attention trumps social influence

2020-02, Giese, Helge, Neth, Hansjörg, Moussaïd, Mehdi, Betsch, Cornelia, Gaissmaier, Wolfgang

Online discussions may impact the willingness to get vaccinated. This experiment tests how groups of individuals with consistent and inconsistent attitudes towards flu vaccination attend to and convey information online, and how they alter their corresponding risk perceptions.

Out of 1859 MTurkers, we pre-selected 208 people with negative and 221 people with positive attitudes towards flu vaccinations into homogeneous or heterogeneous 3-link experimental diffusion chains. We assessed (i) which information about flu vaccinations participants conveyed to the subsequent link, (ii) how flu-vaccination related perceptions were altered by incoming messages, and (iii) how participants perceived incoming information.

Participants (i) selectively conveyed attitude-consistent information, but exhibited no overall anti-vaccination bias, (ii) were reluctant to alter their flu-vaccination related perceptions in response to messages, and (iii) evaluated incoming information consistent with their prior attitudes as more convincing.

Flu-vaccination related perceptions are resilient against contradictions and bias online communication. Contrary to expectations, there was no sign of amplification of anti-vaccine attitudes by online communication.

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How to convince the vaccine‐hesitant? : An ease‐of‐access nudge, but not risk‐related information increased Covid vaccination‐related behaviors in the unvaccinated

2023-08-08, Giese, Helge, Neth, Hansjörg, Wegwarth, Odette, Gaissmaier, Wolfgang, Stok, F. Marijn

In this study, we contrast how different benefit and harm information formats and the presence or absence of an ease‐of‐access nudge may facilitate COVID vaccination uptake for a sample of 620 unvaccinated Dutch adults at a timepoint when the vaccine had been widely available for more than a month. Using a 2 × 2 between‐subjects factorial design, we varied the information format on mRNA COVID vaccination statistics (generic text vs. facts box) and an affirmative nudge emphasizing the ease of making a vaccination appointment (absent vs. present). We assessed the acceptance of the vaccination information provided, perceptions on the vaccination, and whether participants directly visited a COVID vaccination appointment website. Whereas the facts box did not significantly affect participants' information acceptance, vaccination attitudes, intentions, and link clicking, the affirmative nudge alongside an online link systematically increased the likelihood of clicking on the link to make a vaccination appointment. A verbal nudge emphasizing the ease of vaccine accessibility is more likely to increase vaccination uptake in an unvaccinated population than informational campaigns on vaccine effectiveness.


Determinants of information diffusion in online communication on vaccination : The benefits of visual displays

2021, Giese, Helge, Neth, Hansjörg, Gaissmaier, Wolfgang

Social media are an increasingly important source of information on the benefits and risks of vaccinations, but the high prevalence of misinformation provides challenges for informed vaccination decisions. It is therefore important to understand which messages are likely to diffuse online and why, and how relevant aspects—such as scientific facts on vaccination effectiveness—can be made more comprehensible and more likely to be shared. In two studies, we (i) explore which characteristics of messages on flu vaccination facilitate their diffusion in online communication, and (ii) whether visual displays (i.e., icon arrays) facilitate the comprehension and diffusion of scientific effectiveness information.

In Study 1, 208 participants each rated a random sample of 15 out of 63 messages on comprehensibility, trustworthiness, persuasiveness, familiarity, informativeness, valence, and arousal, and then reported which information they would share with subsequent study participants. In Study 2 (N = 758), we employed the same rating procedure for a selected set of 9 messages and experimentally manipulated how scientific effectiveness information was displayed.

Study 1 illustrated that scientific effectiveness information was difficult to understand and thus did not diffuse well. Study 2 demonstrated that visual displays improved the understanding of this information, which could, in turn, increase its social impact.

The comprehensibility of scientific information is an important prerequisite for its diffusion. Visual displays can facilitate informed vaccination decisions by rendering important information on vaccination effectiveness more transparent and increasing the willingness to share this information.