An increasing number of parents these days have concerns about vaccines. And as anyone who’s tried to rationally debunk these concerns with science will be aware, it’s frustratingly hard to change people’s minds, despite the overwhelming amount of evidence backing up the safety of immunisation. In fact, research has shown that the more you argue with anti-vaccers, the more set they become in their opinions.
But researchers in the US have analysed several different methods of reassuring parents who are skeptical about vaccines, and the results show that sometimes it’s better to stop arguing, and simply let pictures do the talking.
The study found that focussing more on the dangers of the diseases that vaccines prevent is much more effective than trying to use science to debunk common myths. Specifically, photos of children suffering from vaccine-preventable diseases such as measles and smallpox seemed to be the most effective way to make anti-vaccers re-evaluate their position.
“It’s sort of appealing to directly confront people about their beliefs, but that sets up a context for an argument, and then they respond by arguing back,” one of the researchers, Derek Powell from the University of California, Los Angeles, told Joshua A. Krisch from Vocativ. “If you tell people that these are contagious diseases and that there are serious benefits to getting vaccines, you can get improvements in people with negative attitudes toward vaccines.” Source: Scientists have found one tactic that can change anti-vaccers’ minds