Psychological characteristics and the mediating role of the 5C Model in explaining students’ COVID-19 vaccination intention

Annelot Wismans, Roy Thurik, Rui Baptista, Marcus DEJARDIN, Frank Janssen, Ingmar H. A. Franken

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To achieve herd immunity against COVID-19, it is crucial to know the drivers of vaccination intention and, thereby, vaccination. As the determinants of vaccination differ across vaccines, target groups and contexts, we investigate COVID-19 vaccination intention using data from university students from three countries, the Netherlands, Belgium and Portugal. We investigate the psychological drivers of vaccination intention using the 5C model as mediator. This model includes five antecedents of vaccination: Confidence, Complacency, Constraints, Calculation and Collective Responsibility. First, we show that the majority of students have a positive propensity toward getting vaccinated against COVID-19, though only 41% of students are completely acceptant. Second, using the 5C model, we show that 'Confidence' (β = 0.33, SE = 03, p < .001) and 'Collective Responsibility' (β = 0.35, SE = 04, p < .001) are most strongly related to students' COVID-19 vaccination intention. Using mediation analyses, we show that the perceived risk and effectiveness of the vaccine as well as trust in the government and health authorities indirectly relate to vaccination intention through 'Confidence'. The perceived risk of COVID-19 for one's social circle and altruism, the need to belong and psychopathy traits indirectly relate to vaccination intention through 'Collective Responsibility'. Hence, targeting the psychological characteristics associated with 'Confidence' and 'Collective Responsibility' can improve the effectiveness of vaccination campaigns among students.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0255382
Pages (from-to)1-23
Number of pages23
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number8 August
Publication statusPublished - 11 Aug 2021


  • COVID-19
  • Vaccination
  • Health policy
  • Policy
  • 5C model


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