Hands on a laptop keyboard with red thought bubbles with words "Idiot!" "Hate U" and "Loser," icons for "Don't Like" and symbols representing expletives.
Anger and hostility feed incivility on social media, a new UC Davis study suggests. (Getty Images)

Has Social Media Discourse Affected People’s Hesitancy to Get Vaccinated Against COVID?

Anger and Hostility Feed Incivility, UC Davis Researchers Suggest

Despite vaccine availability, vaccine hesitancy has inhibited public health officials’ efforts to mitigate the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States, which has killed more than 1 million people in the U.S. and nearly 6 million people worldwide.

Researchers from UC Davis looked at how the politically polarized nature of COVID-19 information, and misinformation, on social media has given rise to anxiety, sadness, anger and hostility that feed incivility. This information can help public health professionals tailor messages to address these underlying emotions, researchers suggest.

The study, “Emotions and Incivility in Vaccine Mandate Discourse: Natural Language Processing Insights,” was published earlier this month in the journal JMIR Infodemiology.

“Although some elected officials have responded to the pandemic by issuing vaccine and mask mandates, particularly when accessing public places, others have amplified vaccine hesitancy by broadcasting messages that minimize vaccine efficacy.” —  Hannah Stevens, a doctoral student in the Department of Communication and lead author of the study.

Read the rest of this article and related stories at UC Davis News.


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