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Taking the Coronavirus Vaccine Arouses Emotions: One Third Experiences Relief, One Fifth is Afraid

Study reveals the Finns’ emotions and intentions toward taking the coronavirus vaccine. The results serve as a basis for understanding emotions, having a constructive public discussion, and preventing the Covid-19 pandemic. This empathy study was conducted in January in cooperation with NayaDaya, YouGov and Statista.

Clearly over half (57 %) of the Finns experience positive emotions toward taking the coronavirus vaccine whereas over one- fourth (27 %) report having negative emotions. The coronavirus vaccine evokes more positive emotions in men (61 %) than in women (54 %). From the geographical viewpoint, the most negative emotions were experienced in Western-Finland (32 %) while Northern- and Eastern-Finland (22 %) reported least negative emotions.


Among the Finnish citizen, the most often experienced emotion toward taking the Covid-19 vaccine is relief (33 %), then fear (20 %) and interest (10 %). The younger the target group, the more often fear appears: among 18 to 29-year-old Finns, fear is the most reported emotion (fear 28 %, relief 26 %). Over 60-year-old group experience the least fear (fear 13 %, relief 39 %).


”In order to effectively prevent the pandemic, it is essential to understand how emotions affect people’s inclination toward taking the coronavirus vaccine. Relief grows out of avoiding the spread of or getting infected by the coronavirus – hence, relief engages people into taking the vaccine. Fear, on the other hand, indicates an uncontrollable threat. In this case, avoidance turns us away from the vaccine. Based on the study results, part of the people see taking the vaccine as a way to avoid the threat, part as a threat itself”, says Timo Salomäki, Head of Global Growth at NayaDaya Inc.


For many people, taking the vaccine bears no meaning: 16 percent of the Finns do not recognize any emotion in this connection. The non-existing positive or negative emotions can be interpreted as insignificance.


Political affiliations affect emotions and bahavior. Advocates of the ruling parties (70 %) experience the vaccine-taking more positively than those supporting the opposition parties (55 %). Negative emotions are more common among those advocating the opposition parties (31 %) rather than the ruling parties (22 %). Insignificance is most common among the non-attached (24 %).


Negative emotions often lead to uncertainty or refusal of the vaccine


Based on the responses to (direct question presented in) the study, approximately two-thirds (65 %) of the Finns will take the Covid-19 vaccine, 14 percent will not take the vaccine and one percent has already taken it. One-fifth (20 %) is not able to determine their future actions, yet.


Almost 90 percent of those indicating positive emotions toward the vaccine also intend to take it. Among those experiencing negative emotions, refusing to take the vaccine (35 %) is more common than taking it (30 %). Over one-third (35 %) of those expressing negative emotions is not able to express their stance in the matter.


”Emotions strongly correlate with the citizens’ intentions to take or not to take the corona vaccine. Those who plan on taking the vaccine despite the neagative emotions toward it, most likely imagine the consequences of not taking the vaccine being even greater. In their minds they are choosing the lesser evil of the two”, interprets Tommi Makkonen, Chief Intelligence Officer at NayaDaya Inc.


”At the moment, the corona vaccine raises positive emotions amongst most Finns - and they intend to take it as well. It is worth mentioning, however, that when the study results are observed in proportion to the entire population, approximately 1,2 million Finns experience negative emotions, most often fear, toward the vaccine. Respectively, for approximately 700 000 citizens, the vaccine is insignificant. To which direction the emotions develop during the ongoing year will determine how well we are able to prevent the epidemic with the help of vaccines”, states Timo Järvinen, CEO at NayaDaya Inc.


Taking the coronavirus vaccine splits emotions in healthcare


Caretakers, nurses and other healthcare professionals represent 7 percent of the study sample (N=1001). The emotions raising from the Covid-19 vaccine are split even between positive and negative emotions (44 % for both). Over one-tenth (11 %) experience no emotions – an indication of insignificance.


Among the healthcare professionals, the two most common emotions toward taking the vaccine are fear (33 %) and relief (33 %). Based on the direct question asked, clearly over half (57 %) of them intend to take the vaccine, 14 percent will decline and 12 percent already have taken it. 17 percent are not able to determine their actions in this matter. Among the healthcare workers expressing negative emotions, approximately one-third declares intentions to take the vaccine. Almost two-thirds will refuse it or is uncertain of their own intentions.


”In order to manage the pandemic, the healthcare professionals’ attitude toward taking the vaccine becomes essential. Based on our study, negative emotions, especially fear, are more common in healthcare than among the rest of the citizen. The result is understandable when the fact that the healthcare workers are the first ones required to take the speedily developed vaccine is taken into consideration. Also, pressure from outside as well as lack of own influence in the matter may increase fear”, analyzes Timo Salomäki.


Trust can block out fear toward the vaccine


Timo Järvinen from NayaDaya highlights that even though the positive emotions evoked by the vaccine are currently clearly more common than the negative ones, the negative experiences should not be disregarded. If the vaccine is to tame the coronavirus pandemic, people’s concerns ought to be faced, accepted and handled. Fear does not disappear by merely stating that the vaccine is nothing to be afraid of.


”People need facts when dealing with contradicting opinions. In my opinion, this is not the problem – communication is well taken care of in Finland. Facts alone, however, are not enough. Scientific and statistic facts do not reason well enough with people’s emotions and behavor”, emphasizes Järvinen.


Ultimately, this boils down to trust. ”The citizen themselves are not able to have influence over the safety of the vaccine, so in order to take the shot, one must have trust on the authorities. If the trust is there, we experience relief and gladly take the shot – if not, we experience fear and refuse – or reluctantly take the vaccine”, simplifies Järvinen.


Lack of trust ignites fear and mistrust. ”To enhance trust one requires empathy, sympathy and dialogue, which reaches beyond mere statements, advice and one-sided influencing. People want to be heard and seen. True connections and trust are born in interactive situations where the parties involved reveal their vulnerabilities – ultimately it is a question of presence and love”, sums up Järvinen.


Facts about the study

  • Emotion data was collected 20.-22.1.2021 through the YouGov online-panel

  • The quota sampling was implemented on the basis of age, gender, and location to represent the Finnish population of 18-years or older

  • Other variables are age, gender, location, family life stage, urbanization, income level, professional field, education, social media usage, supervisory position, political party preference, and intention to take the coronavirus vaccine

  • For the overall result (N=1001) the average margin of error is approximately ±2,8 percentage

  • The data was analyzed with the NayaDaya® Empathy Analytics, based on scientific theory, University of Geneva research, and algorithm which predicts behavior and engagement

Further information

Timo Järvinen, CEO, NayaDaya Inc., timo@nayadaya.com, tel. +358 40 505 7745

Timo Salomäki, Head of Global Growth, NayaDaya Inc., timos@nayadaya.com, tel. +358 40 709 2399

NayaDaya Inc. is an empathy analytics company that reveals the way emotions and behavior interact with phenomena and brands. Through data, insight, empathy, and impact, we empower organizations, authorities, brands, and leaders to strive for a sustainable change. If you respect science, empathy, and data, we would love to discuss with you. News and further information: https://www.nayadaya.com

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