Viewpoint: Why are some people hesitant to get vaccines? It may have more to do with hard-wired personality than politics

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Credit: Getty Images
Credit: Getty Images

After conducting a national survey of U.S. adults, we grouped people into distinct profiles based on their shared beliefs and barriers to getting the vaccine. This approach, borrowed from the marketing world, is called psychobehavioral segmentation.

It will allow health officials to target their strategies in ways that ignore demographic categories, like age and race. In the United States, we used this approach to identify five distinct personas: the Enthusiasts, the Watchful, the Cost-Anxious, the System Distrusters and the Covid Skeptics.

People in each segment share some beliefs and barriers about Covid-19 vaccination. And each persona includes at least some of every demographic: Republicans, Black people, the middle class, young people and others.

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With only 60 percent of U.S. adults having received their first shot, we are still far from President Biden’s target of 70 percent by the Fourth of July. This national average also hides an important truth: The country is a patchwork, with states like Vermont tracking higher (with 78 percent of adults having received their first dose) and states like Mississippi tracking lower (42 percent of adults). Therefore, we can’t rely on a one-size-fits-all approach.

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