And that leads us to one of the world’s leading thinkers on persuasion, the social psychologist who’s been dubbed “the godfather of influence,” Dr. Robert Cialdini. As part of the work of STChealth, a leader in vaccine data collection and analysis, the company sought Dr. Cialdini’s advice on getting those who are hesitant to agree to be vaccinated.

1. “The most important recommendation I’d make is to use the word trend. We’re seeing the number of people who don’t want the vaccine is falling. Let’s say that there were 40% who didn’t want the vaccine, and now that number is down to 30%. It would be a mistake to use just those two numbers. That’s because 40 is a statistic, 40 and 30 are a difference, but,

if you say, it used to be 40, then 35, and now it’s 30 – that’s a trend. There’s magic in a trend because we know that people believe trends will continue and so the trend implies that they should get onboard. It’s what we call social proof. Don’t cite a statistic or a difference — show a trend.”

2. Other powerful forces are scarcity and loss aversion.  When the supply of something is limited, it fires up a desire that, in Dr. Cialdini’s words, “people go a little crazy.” He adds, “Loss is the ultimate form of scarcity. People hate to have something taken away, like losing their place in line.” People who may not have particularly wanted a place in line can be still be distressed at the thought of losing that place.

3. Lastly, he recommends that vaccine communications include scientific imagery – like vials and microscopes and lab coats. “The goal is to reinforce the thought that scientists have come to conclusions about the vaccine. The mindset is fact-based, not belief-based.”

To learn more about the latest in immunization intelligence, sign up for STChealth’s IINews . You’ll receive each new article directly in your inbox, along with our original cartoons!