Health belief and behaviour: An analysis of the predictors for receiving COVID-19 vaccines in Malaysia

THURSDAY, 1 December 2022: Public Administration and Policy: An Asia-Pacific Journal, a journal of the Emerald group, has recently published a research entitled “Health belief and behaviour: An analysis of the predictors for receiving COVID-19 vaccines in Malaysia”; the research was conducted by two Research Fellows of the Center for Market Education (CME), Dr Consilz Tan (Senior Lecturer at the School of Economics and Management at Xiamen University Malaysia (XMUM)) and Dr Liew Chee Yoong (Assistant Professor of Finance at the Faculty of Business and Management, UCSI University, Malaysia).

Dr. Tan and Dr. Liew examined the ‘Intention to Receive the COVID-19 Vaccines’ (IRV) from three perspectives: the health belief model, behavioural economics, and institutional quality. Their study statistically analyzed data collected from 591 respondents who were mainly from Malaysia.

Their study is one of those few studies investigating the predictors of IRV as well as the first to investigate how one of these predictors, i.e., the institutional quality and herding, influences IRV. They found five significant predictors of IRV: Perceived Benefits, Perceived Barriers, Perceived Susceptibility, Herding, and Institutional Quality. Their findings reveal that the respondents behaved differently before and after they were provided information incorporating the impact of herding. Herding arises when an informational cascade exists. An informational cascade happens when it is optimal to mimic the behaviour of others without considering one’s information after knowing what others are doing. Social pressure or herding mentality exists among people, encouraging them to follow the masses. To add on, herding mentality is also likely to reduce regret and provide a sense of comfort among people. In the study, before the respondents were provided with the information, Perceived Benefits, Perceived Barriers, Herding, and Perceived Susceptibility were the predictors of IRV. After they were provided such information, Perceived Benefits, Perceived Barriers, and Institutional Quality became the significant predictors.

Their research shows that once people possess the herding mentality after being exposed to information encouraging such behaviour, their focus shifts to institutional quality as one factor influencing their IRV. This reflects that the effectiveness of government authorities, regulatory quality, the rule of law, and control of corruption are also significant predictors of IRV but only within a herding mentality.

In conclusion, their study reveals that the respondents changed their behaviour in different situations when exposed to information that incorporates the effects of herding. Herding mentality, the effectiveness of government authorities, and regulatory quality have become important factors in enriching public health policies and the effectiveness of government interventions in public health treatments.

In a nutshell: among the Malaysian population, the decision to receive Covid-19 vaccination depended not only on the perception of benefits and barriers but also on the institutional framework; however, this last factor played a role only after a herd mentality was created. This can be summarized by saying the “imitation” or “group” spirit played a significant role in the collective decision to receive Covid-19 vaccines.

To read more about the research outcomes, the article is available here.

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