People who have been vaccinated against the coronavirus have a stronger antipathy towards the unvaccinated than the unvaccinated would discriminate against the vaccinated – this is a surprising result of a recent research described in the scientific journal Nature . Researchers from Denmark’s Aarhus University and CEU’s Institute for Democracy originally assumed that the vaccinated and unvaccinated camp would mutually blow each other, but it seems that the unvaccinated are not bothered by those who have decided to vaccinate themselves against SARS-CoV-2.
The results of the study are based on a survey of more than 15,000 people in 21 countries. The authors concluded that this behavior could hinder the management of the pandemic and make some societies more divided than before the pandemic.
The deployment of vaccines against SARS-CoV-2 has resulted in a division between those who vaccinate themselves and those who refuse to do so. The research suggests that the vaccinated may condemn the unvaccinated for not following the advice of the health authorities – this behavior is related to following the rules and thinking in a group. Consistent with this, previous research has found that those who refuse vaccination report feeling discriminated against and pressured against their will (for example, due to strict government policies against unvaccinated individuals).
According to the researcher, what politicians say and what rules they make is only one side of the coin, a lot also depends on how people follow the rules among themselves:
The pandemic has affected the world in many ways, and massive community efforts such as social distancing, wearing masks or vaccinations have become a moral duty for many. Society does not look favorably on hitchhikers. And this logic cannot be reversed: the unvaccinated should not be problematic from this point of view, since they are the ones who abide by the rules of the group.
The whole situation pushes the unvaccinated into a downward spiral: distrust is one of the main reasons why they do not vaccinate themselves, but negative attitudes towards them, exclusion, political decisions all make them even more distrustful and anti-vaccination.
The researchers found evidence of discriminatory attitudes toward the unvaccinated in all countries except Hungary and Romania, and find that discriminatory attitudes are more pronounced in cultures with stronger cooperative norms.
“In cultures with stronger norms of cooperation, vaccinated individuals react more negatively towards unvaccinated individuals. In Denmark, for example, cooperation is high, the culture is stricter, here the attitude towards the unvaccinated is more negative,” said Bor Alexander.
“We investigated more than twenty countries because we believe that the pandemic is a global problem and must be investigated globally. Political affiliation or a connection with other prejudices could not be detected, but we found that older people are a little more prejudiced, which may also be because the virus is more dangerous for them.”
The researcher also noted: prejudice against the unvaccinated is typically weaker where more people died in the epidemic, but this does not mean a cause-and-effect relationship. The fact that politicians gave the issue a strong moral charge did not help the situation either. The authors of the study recommend that when dealing with major social crises, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, the authorities should try not to incite deep antagonisms between citizens.