What is it about?

During the COVID-19 pandemic, people differed widely in their intentions to become vaccinated. Between December 2020 and June 2021, the current study followed up 10,799 participants as regards their (lack of) motivation to become vaccinated and their intentions to get the vaccine. Those who showed higher levels of autonomous motivation across time reported a higher intention to get the vaccine if they would be invited, and this was most pronounced for those who had low intentions at the beginning. In contrast, when people reported to experience external pressure (i.e., controlled motivation) or reported higher distrust towards the vaccine (i.e., distrust-based amotivation), vaccination intention diminished, especially in those participants who had initially high levels of vaccination intentions.

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Why is it important?

The findings demonstrate the negative effects of strategies to control behavior as well as the positive effects of people’s voluntarily motivation. In addition, those doubting about or refusing vaccination are not lost and may even be more sensitive to interventions that support autonomous motivation for vaccination. Our results are relevant for policy makers and healthcare professionals when designing campaigns to promote vaccination and other health protective measures.


This article is part of the Motivation Barometer, a nation-wide research project during the COVID-19 crisis in Belgium. Being part of the research team provided a unique and honorful experience of how psychological science can have a substantial societal impact in Belgium.

Joachim Waterschoot
Universiteit Gent

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: How do vaccination intentions change over time? The role of motivational growth., Health Psychology, September 2022, American Psychological Association (APA), DOI: 10.1037/hea0001228.
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