Science knows no country, because knowledge belongs to humanity, and is the torch which illuminates the world. (L. Pasteur)

Prof. Dr. Cornelia Betsch and her team work on understanding principles of health behavior by applying a judgment and decision making and strategic interaction perspective to infectious disease control - especially with regard to the vaccination decision and prudent use of antibiotics.

At the same time, they believe in the necessity to make research findings usable. That’s why this team is also involved in creating online materials for health organizations (such as the Europen Centre for Disease Prevention and Control or the Bundeszentrale für gesundheitliche Aufklärung) or in projects with authorities such as the World Health Organization, Regional Office for Europe, or the Thuringian Ministry of Health. This combination of high understanding and high usability of research has been labelled “Pasteur’s Quadrant” (Stroke, 1997). We would like to follow this luminous tradition by striving for both high understanding and high usability to contribute to the attainment of public health goals.

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[Translate to English:] Kunst auf der La Biennale di Venezia 2021

Current research projects

Completed Research Projects

Insight into our work

Health Games

[Translate to English:] Image from an art installation at La Biennale di Venezia 2021. It shows stacked piles of wood with the word "connectedness" on it.

Overcoming the social dilemma in vaccination decisions and the consumption of antibiotics

Scientific approaches often describe preventive and curative health decisions as individual decision-making tasks, where individuals weigh their own costs and benefits. However, some health decisions do not only affect the individual decision-maker, but also have direct or indirect effects on others.

The classical perspective ignores potential positive or negative effects on others (externalities) as mechanisms and potential incentives in health decisions. Vaccinations, for instance, often have positive externalities because every vaccination reduces the transmission of a disease and thus indirectly protects unvaccinated individuals. Antibiotic use, in contrast, is an example for negative externalities, because excessive and inappropriate use leads to drug resistance and can harm uninvolved others if antibiotics are no longer effective. As a result, health decisions become social interactions when the decisions of several individuals and their health consequences influence each other, and individual interests have to be weighed up against collective interests.

In a preceding project we systematically analyzed vaccination decisions as social interactions at the behavioral level. The three work packages of this follow-up project directly build upon the established research method of analyzing social-interactive health decisions through interactive decision tasks (Health Games). It has been repeatedly shown that interventions stressing prosocial aspects of vaccinations are helpful in increasing the willingness to vaccinate. Work package WP1 therefore critically examines this finding with regard to mediators as well as facilitating and attenuating moderators.

Furthermore, previous studies showed that integrating vaccine effectiveness into the vaccination decision leads to a cognitive bias ("Vaccine Effectiveness Fallacy"). When vaccines are less effective, individuals are less willing to vaccinate. Theoretical models, however, suggest that this is incorrect from a normative perspective since with decreasing effectiveness the indirect protection also decreases. Therefore, WP2 identifies and evaluates different debiasing strategies.

WP3 applies our research approach to antibiotic use in order to examine its determinants. These insights will facilitate the future development of strategies to reduce excessive and inappropriate antibiotic use. For this purpose, we developed a novel interactive decision task that models the social-interactive mechanisms in the development of antibiotic resistance.

Based on these interdisciplinary research methods, this project extends theoretical models of health decision dilemmas, taking into account that behavioral predictions can vary depending on whether externalities of the individual decision are considered or not. The results of this project will increase our understanding and the development of evidence-based interventions to overcome vaccine hesitancy and antibiotic overuse.

This is a collaboration with Prof. Dr. Robert Böhm, University of Vienna.

See also website DFG Gepris Database

Open Science Badges Stacked

Staff members of the Chair of Health Communication are committed to Open Science. We are members of the Erfurt Open Science Initiative (EFOSI)
We embrace the values of openness and transparency in science by applying Open Science practices in our research, teaching, support of young researchers and interactions with our institution.

Some staff members of the Chair of Health Communication are members of the Center for Empirical Research in Economics and Behavioral Sciences (CEREB)