Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Human Factors Psychology

Committee Chair/Advisor

Kaileigh Byrne

Committee Member

Leo J Gugerty

Committee Member

Patrick J Rosopa

Committee Member

Kathleen Cartmell

Committee Member

Michael Shreeves


Vaccine hesitancy is an ongoing public health issue that has been underscored by the COVID-19 pandemic and has implications for future pandemics and other vaccines. This research aimed to understand and address the factors associated with hesitancy. Study 1 was a correlational study that measured several factors that could predict vaccine hesitancy among Black and White participants recruited online (n = 364). Findings suggest that trust in science was the strongest predictor of attitudes towards the vaccine’s safety and effectiveness, which in turn strongly predicted vaccine hesitancy. Study 1 established the direct and indirect relationships between several predictors of vaccine hesitancy and highlighted racial differences in the model. In a follow-up project, I co-developed and delivered an educational intervention designed to improve trust in science as part of an applied project funded by the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control. Study 2 tested the effectiveness of a trust in science training intervention in a randomized controlled experiment. 159 Black participants recruited online were assigned to a trust-in-science training, a COVID-19 vaccine education training, or an empty control group. Posttest measures assessed trust in science, misinformation recognition, and vaccination intention. The trust training successfully improved trust in science and misinformation recognition when compared to the empty group but did not significantly improve these measures compared to the COVID-training group. None of the training conditions significantly affected vaccination intention. Study 2 provides evidence for a successful trust-in-science training intervention that has applications for future use as an educational tool.

Author ORCID Identifier




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