How To Help Your Vaccine-Hesitant Friends Get Vaccinated
I’ve spent the better part of this year arguing with vaccine-hesitant friends on social media. I’ve thrown them peer-reviewed articles, clear-cut statistics, and plenty of logic — but none of this is helping. That’s because people are not likely to change their views during a conflicting argument. Instead, they dig themselves deeper.
The fact is, we don’t like being wrong; it’s just not a nice feeling. And much of this stems from our power-driven egos, as Guy Winch (Ph.D.) explained in Psychology Today:
“Some people have such a fragile ego, such brittle self-esteem, such a weak ‘psychological constitution,’ that admitting they made a mistake or that they were wrong is fundamentally too threatening for their egos to tolerate,” Guy Winch said.
“Accepting they were wrong, absorbing that reality, would be so psychologically shattering, their defense mechanisms do something remarkable to avoid doing so — they literally distort their perception of reality to make it (reality) less threatening.”
Guy’s examples usually stem from everyday mistakes, like forgetting to buy milk because you thought you had a full bottle in the fridge. Those who truly hate being wrong would make up excuses that make them appear right. Someone must have finished the bottle of milk, they say. I checked this morning before I left!
With this in mind, it’s easy to see why it’s so hard to change the minds of your vaccine-hesitant friends and family. When you argue with them, sharing expert blog posts and peer-reviewed articles that prove vaccines are safe and effective, they throw their own ammo back. And their research falls under what is called confirmation bias. They are selecting research that prove their point, just like you did when you sent them your research. You think they're stupid for believing in that research and they think the same of you.
It’s a never-ending war.
So, if you want to make your vaccine-hesitant friends get vaccinated, arguing with them is perhaps not the best option. Not unless they respect your views and are willing to admit they are wrong.