Vaccine Refusal Linked to Underdeveloped Problem-Solving Abilities, Absolutist Ideas and Political Conservatism

Vaccine Refusal Linked to Underdeveloped Problem-Solving Abilities, Absolutist Ideas and Political Conservatism

According to a recent study that was published in Environmental Research and Public Health, those who have trouble solving problems and who exhibit absolutist ideas, conservatism, as well as xenophobia, are more likely to also refuse getting vaccinated.

These results suggest that increasing vaccination rates might lead to better public health and this can be done by cultivating problem-solving abilities in the general population.

Over a million people have died in the United States as a result of the COVID epidemic in the last two years.

The widespread vaccination drive that was underway in December of 2020 made a vital contribution to stopping the virus’s spread.

However, important barriers to sufficiently controlling COVID-19 infections continue to remain vaccine mistrust and rejection.

The group of researchers proposed two characteristics as being related to vaccination acceptance: problem-solving abilities and socio-cognitive polarization.

The capacity to come up with fresh approaches and new ways to think about an issue is a necessary component of problem-solving abilities.

People may need to think creatively and flexibly in order to solve problems that go beyond what they already know.

Socio-cognitive polarization includes indicators of xenophobia, absolutist thinking, conservative ideology, and ambiguity intolerance.

The researchers say that “people who score high on [socio cognitive polarization] may be less likely to handle complexity and also seek out alternative explanations when processing information.”

An individual must exhibit the ability to think flexibly in order to create new problem-solving techniques.

Human well-being has depended on our ability to adapt quickly to new situations.

According to earlier studies, experienced problem solvers are more likely to recognize fake news, appreciate diversity, and have more political flexibility.

This shows that having good problem-solving abilities may lead to actions that are socially advantageous.

Using Amazon’s Mechanical Turk crowdsourcing platform, the study enlisted 277 Americans as volunteers.

A rebus puzzle exercise and an online survey evaluating socio-cognitive polarization were completed by all participants.

A poll gauging their vaccine acceptance was also required for completion.

The information gathered indicated that people were more likely to do poorly on measures of vaccine acceptance if they had worse problem-solving skills and high levels of sociocognitive polarization.

Having trouble tackling problems might be a risk factor for vaccination refusal, with “cognitive and social rigidity playing a crucial role in undermining the decision to accept the COVID vaccine.”

The findings also showed that vaccination rejection and a high sociocognitive polarization level are closely related.

For instance, those who tend to think in absolutes or who struggle to see things from different perspectives are more likely to be reluctant to vaccinate their kids.

Furthermore, people who have strongly right-leaning political views were more inclined to oppose vaccinations.

When taken together, these results shed light on a potential relationship between problem-solving skills, sociocognitive rigidity, and vaccination reluctance or even rejection.


Katherine is just getting her start as a journalist. She attended a technical school while still in high school where she learned a variety of skills, from photography to nutrition. Her enthusiasm for both natural and human sciences is real so she particularly enjoys covering topics on medicine and the environment.

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