The science of persuasion

28 April 2017  Vol 356, Issue 6336

The science of persuasion
By Kai Kupferschmidt
Science28 Apr 2017 : 366-369 Full Access
Vaccines save lives. But what is the most effective way to convince worried parents?
Vaccines save many lives, but not all parents are convinced that their children should be vaccinated. As a result, vaccine-preventable diseases still cause big outbreaks even in the developed world; meanwhile, a small but vocal community is spreading misinformation about vaccines and demonizing proponents of immunization. Scientists don’t agree on the best way to persuade parents to have their children vaccinated. Studies on that question are often limited in scope, have different approaches, and contradict each other. Still, past work offers some clues on what works, scientists say. And persuasion isn’t the only strategy; just making it easier to get vaccinated—or more difficult to refuse—can also have an important impact.