"Following your gut" or "questioning the scientific evidence": Understanding vaccine skepticism among more-educated Dutch parents

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Abstract

This study aims to understand vaccine skepticism among a population where it is remarkably prevalent—more-educated Dutch parents—through 31 in-depth interviews. Whereas all respondents ascribe a central role to the individual in obtaining knowledge (i.e., individualist epistemology), this is expressed in two repertoires. A neoromantic one focuses on deriving truth through intuition and following a “natural” path and informs a risk typology: embracing (refusing) “natural” (“unnatural”) risks such as “childhood diseases” (“pharmaceutical substances”). A critical-reflexive repertoire centers on scientific methods but is skeptical about the scientific consensus and informs a risk calculation: opting for the choice perceived to bear the smallest risk. Thus, the same vaccine can be rejected because of its perceived harm to natural processes (neoromantic repertoire) or because its scientific basis is deemed insufficient (critical-reflexive repertoire). Moreover, these opposing repertoires are likely to inspire different responses to the same health-related information.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)85-99
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Health and Social Behavior
Volume62
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2021

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