Re-Routing Persuasion: How Conversion Messages Boost Attitudes and Reduce Resistance Among Holdouts Unvaccinated for COVID-19

Jeff Conlin, Sushma Kumble, Michelle Baker, Fuyuan Shen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This study examined the persuasive effects of two-sided refutational conversion messages compared to one-sided advocacy messages in increasing pro-COVID-19 vaccination attitudes and reducing resistance to getting vaccinated among U.S. adults who self-reported as unvaccinated. Results showed that main effects of conversion messages led to significantly higher attitudes but failed to directly reduce resistance toward vaccination. Predicted mediation effects between conversion messages and the dependent variables were found for homophily but were not supported for argument strength. Significant group differences were detected between participants who self-reported as high or low in vaccine hesitancy, for structural equation models that significantly and indirectly led to decreased resistance. Findings show the potential for two-sided conversion messages to be used by public health message designers to affect pro-health outcomes. Implications and limitations of these results and future directions are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalHealth Communication
StateAccepted/In press - 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Health(social science)
  • Communication

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