Who Deserves Protection? How Naming Potential Beneficiaries Influences COVID-19 Vaccine Intentions

Jina Lee, Minjae Seo, Erin Leahey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Typically, vaccination is perceived as self-interested act, but it is also a community-oriented action that benefits other members in society, as high vaccine uptake reduces disease transmission. Drawing on the notion of deservingness, the authors ran an online experiment (n = 516) to assess whose interests motivate people from across the political spectrum to engage in a community-oriented action: the intention to receive a coronavirus disease 2019 vaccine. Results show that liberals and conservatives resonate with self-oriented and community-oriented message frames differently. When a community-oriented message focuses on hard-hit groups such as racial minorities, this increases vaccine intent among liberals but decreases vaccine intent among conservatives. A message focusing on community in a generic sense is the only message frame that increases vaccine intent among moderates and the message that induces the least resistance among conservatives. The findings suggest that members of racial and ethnic minority groups are still excluded from boundaries of moral concern.

Original languageEnglish (US)
StatePublished - Mar 2022


  • COVID-19
  • culture
  • deservingness
  • health
  • symbolic boundary

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Social Sciences


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