How Do Individuals With Conspiracy Beliefs Respond to Humorous Public Service Announcements Promoting COVID-19 Vaccination? The Role of Scientific Consensus and Vaccine Confidence

Jeong-Yeob Han, Hanyoung Kim, Hye Jin Yoon, Ja Kyung Seo


Individuals with higher COVID-19 conspiracy beliefs tend to distrust vaccine initiatives and counterargue the actions of the government or scientific experts. Still, there has been limited research on the messaging strategies that effectively promote these individuals’ COVID-19 vaccine confidence and vaccination intention. Guided by humor theories, this study investigates the impact of humorous public service advertisements (PSAs) containing scientific consensus information about the necessity of COVID-19 vaccinations. The findings suggested that people holding moderate or strong (vs. weak) beliefs in conspiracy theories were more likely to have confidence in the COVID-19 vaccine when humor was used in messages that did not include scientific consensus information endorsed by experts. This increased vaccine confidence also led to a higher intention of getting vaccinated. However, when the scientific consensus was present in the message, humor exhibited a significant and negative impact on vaccine confidence for individuals with high conspiracy beliefs, which lowered their vaccination intention.


humor messaging, COVID-19, conspiracy beliefs, scientific consensus, vaccination intention

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