Predicting vaccination hesitancy: The role of basic needs satisfaction and institutional trust

Gaëlle Marinthe*, Genavee Brown, Mioara Cristea, Maja Kutlaca

*Corresponding author for this work

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Autonomous motivation is considered a powerful driver of health behaviour, but less is known about the specific roles played by basic needs. Drawing on the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, this research examined basic needs as a motivational determinant of vaccination. We hypothesized that satisfaction of basic needs (autonomy, competence, relatedness) has both a direct and an indirect effect (through trust in science and government) on vaccine hesitancy. Two studies (Study 1: N = 968 French and British; Study 2, pre-registered: N = 716 Americans) tested our hypotheses and compared vaccinated and non-vaccinated individuals using multigroup structural equation models. We found positive direct (in both studies) and indirect (in Study 1) effects of autonomy satisfaction on vaccine acceptance. In contrast, competence satisfaction was directly and indirectly, via science mistrust, related to vaccine hesitancy, particularly among non-vaccinated people. Competence satisfaction also indirectly reduced the intention to vaccinate in both studies. We found no impact of relatedness. Complementing previous work on self-determination theory, our research demonstrates the importance of considering the distinct roles of basic needs. Moreover, we highlight that increasing autonomy and science trust may be an efficient strategy to improve vaccine acceptance and vaccination, even among reluctant individuals.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages9
Early online date3 May 2024
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 3 May 2024

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