Promoting Evidence-Based Vaccine Information

Welcome to the Massachusetts Association of Health Boards (MAHB) website. You were directed here when you clicked on a link that you were shown after watching an ad on YouTube. On this page, you can learn more about the purpose of the ad you watched and the scientific research behind it.  MAHB has partnered with American University, Harvard University, and Google Jigsaw to study how people respond to anti-vaccine misinformation. This study is based on the theory of “attitudinal inoculation”.

Attitudinal inoculation is a form of media literacy that can help you protect yourself from manipulative messages you might see online. To learn more about how inoculation works read the post – Inoculation Theory: A Beginners Guide –  please click here

As part of this project, the research team made a series of videos. Each video explains a common manipulation technique (such as emotionally manipulative language, scapegoating, or conspiratorial thinking) or false facts. To watch Innoculation Videos – please click here.

To test these videos, we conducted a series of studies in a laboratory setting, with very positive results. Study participants who watched an inoculation video learned about the manipulation tactics used in misinformation videos. Study participants were less likely to support or like misinformation videos, and they reported increased likelihood of getting the COVID-19 vaccine. Our findings are currently under review at a scientific journal – the Results are published here. 

Our New Research Study

We now want to learn whether these types of videos presented as advertisements can change whether people say they would like factual vaccine information.  To test this hypothesis we are running a YouTube ad campaign among a random sample of YouTube users who meet the following criteria: 1) 18 years or older; 2) a US resident; 3) English-speaking.  Within this group, people are randomly shown either the rhetorical inoculation video or the fact-based inoculation video as a YouTube ad.  The goal of our study is to evaluate whether viewers who watch the rhetorical inoculation or fact-based inoculation ad will report significantly higher intention to like accurate vaccine information than a control group who do not watch either inoculation video.

If you answer a survey question after watching one of the above videos, your response will be recorded and used in our study. You can opt out of our study simply by not answering the survey question. To ensure your privacy, we do not record any YouTube usernames or other personally identifying information. We are only interested in study participants’ responses to the survey questions as part of our scientific research, and therefore do not collect any demographic or other data. Because we do not record any identifying information (and therefore cannot match responses to any individuals), we are unfortunately unable to remove any responses after they have been recorded. This study was reviewed by the American University’s Institutional Review Board. Should you have any questions or concerns about this study, please contact