Canadian Scientific Think-tank, BEworks, Uncovers the Factors Predicting Vaccine Hesitancy in Canada

Toronto, Ontario--(Newsfile Corp. - February 17, 2021) -  A ground-breaking study (COVID-19 Vaccine Hesitancy: A Behavioural Lens on a Critical Problem) conducted by BEworks - a Canadian team of applied behavioural economics experts - indicates that four cognitive factors - belief in conspiracy theories, valuing personal beliefs over empirical evidence, scientific knowledge, and concerns around vaccine risk are driving Canadians' vaccine intentions.

"The study shows that the way people think is significantly more predictive of their willingness to get vaccinated than their demographics alone," explains Kelly Peters, BEworks CEO and lead investigator of the study.

Almost One-Third of Canadians are "On-the-Fence" about Getting a COVID-19 Vaccine
The cross-Canada study of 3700 adults, which was fielded for BEworks by Canadian research platform Delvinia in late December 2020, found that, while 63% of Canadian adults are "vaccine secure" and intend to get vaccinated as quickly as vaccines become available, almost a third of Canadians reported they (28%) are "on-the-fence" when it comes to getting a COVID-19 vaccination. Nine per cent of those who participated in the study said they don't intend to be vaccinated for COVID-19 at all. The study also spotlights that vaccine hesitancy remains an important issue amongst healthcare workers and BIPOC Canadians.

In addition to Delvinia, the research study was also supported by 19ToZero - a coalition of over 300 academics, public health experts, behavioural economists, and creative professionals working to understand, engage with, and ultimately shift public perceptions around COVID-19 behaviours and vaccination.

The BEworks study shows that the way people think - along 4 key Cognitive Factors - predicted 42% of people's vaccination intentions.

  • Belief in Conspiracy Theories
    • People who are vaccine-opposed are 429% more likely to believe conspiracy theories
    • People who are "on-the-fence" about COVID vaccines are 163% more likely to believe conspiracy theories

The BEworks study identified three additional cognitive factors that drive Canadians' vaccine hesitancy: Valuing Personal Beliefs Over Empirical Evidence, overall Scientific Knowledge and general Vaccine Risk Concerns.

Nuanced Vaccine Communications Needed in Canada
In addition to exploring drivers of vaccine hesitancy, the BEworks study offers four strategies on how public health agencies can be most effective in providing vaccination education, encouragement and support:

Launch Targeted Vaccine Communications in Canada
"Canadians' vaccination intentions are nuanced. It's affected by how people see the world, their perceptions of the choices people like them make, who they trust - and their perception of risk, so this is not a one-size fits all scenario," says Peters, who advocates for psychologically-informed communications that are relevant to the barriers to immunization faced by each group. "Understanding why people are hesitant (or object out-right) and then deploying scientifically-grounded solutions will be essential if we want to encourage Canadians to get vaccinated," sums up Peters.

Address the Intention-Action Gap
For the 63% of Canadians who are vaccine secure, BEworks experts caution that the intention-action gap, which is well studied in the field of behavioural economics, may get in the way of people following through on their intention to get vaccinated. Creating pre-commitment to vaccinate, supporting the creation of specific plans to get vaccinated, default appointments and encouraging social-sharing of high-quality information to help "de-bunk" vaccination myths will help address the intention-action gap.

De-Bunking Vaccination Myths
When it comes to the 28% of Canadians who are on the COVID-19 vaccine fence, BEworks psychologists say presenting Canadian vaccination numbers and facts in clear, easy-to-understand ways can be a powerful motivator, along with "pre-bunking" vaccine myths early when misinformation emerges. Leveraging the social proof of vaccinations - and sharing continued experiences a few days and weeks post-vaccination - will be critically important in supporting this group.

Low Pressure Communication
A low-pressure approach that avoids shaming and acknowledges their concerns and points of view will be most beneficial to encouraging the 9% of vaccine-opposed Canadians to reconsider their perspective. "With this group, communications must be aligned with their world view and highlight freedom to choose, personal responsibility and economic recovery," explains Peters.

Additional insights and strategies are included in the study report, which is available at

BEworks is hosting a launch event for Public Health Officials and Industry Leaders looking to understand how new solutions to overcome hesitancy and reinforce the vaccine secure should be effectively deployed. The event titled "Solutions to Overcome Vaccine Hesitancy: A Behavioural Lens on a Critical Problem" is on February 24, 2021 from 12:00 - 1:00 pm EST. More information and sign-up details are available at

About BEworks
was launched over a decade ago and has the same goal then as it does today: to serve as pioneers in the field of behavioral science. Founded by the field's leading experts, Professors Dan Ariely and Nina Maźar, and CEO Kelly Peters, the firm distinguishes itself with its rigorous commitment to evidence-based insights and cutting-edge scientific methods. All of the practitioners are distinguished researchers, hold advanced graduate degrees in behavioral science, and have extensive experience in applying BE to complex strategic, marketing, operational, and policy challenges.

The company's portfolio is in finance, health, retail, energy, and anywhere else there is an opportunity to unlock consumer's needs, motivate teams with purpose, and empower leaders to drive with aspiration. The global management consulting practice, training academy, and research institute are headquartered in Toronto, Canada and support firms and government agencies in North America, LATAM, EU, and Japan. Learn more @BEworks and at

About Delvinia
Delvinia is a research technology and consumer data collection company that is transforming how data is collected and used to underpin business decision-making at every level. The company has spawned a successful portfolio of products and services, including the research automation platform; Canada's leading online consumer panel, AskingCanadians; and CRIS, which automates qualitative research. For more information, please visit or follow @delvinia on Twitter.

About 19 To Zero: United Against COVID-19 to Shift Public Beliefs and Behaviours
Collectively called 19 To Zero: United Against COVID-19, the international group represents more than 300 leaders from healthcare, government, and private sector organizations. BEworks is leading the Behavioural Economics Nudge Unit for the consortium in collaboration with Professor Kirsten Cornelson from the University of Notre Dame. BEworks's focus is on the design and delivery of novel behaviour change solutions, tools, and guides, for use by public and private organizations across a host of COVID-19 challenges. Visit to learn more.

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