Using General Messages to Persuade on a Politicized Scientific Issue

Jon Green*, James N. Druckman, Matthew A. Baum, David Lazer, Katherine Ognyanova, Matthew D. Simonson, Jennifer Lin, Mauricio Santillana, Roy H. Perlis

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Politics and science have become increasingly intertwined. Salient scientific issues, such as climate change, evolution, and stem-cell research, become politicized, pitting partisans against one another. This creates a challenge of how to effectively communicate on such issues. Recent work emphasizes the need for tailored messages to specific groups. Here, we focus on whether generalized messages also can matter. We do so in the context of a highly polarized issue: extreme COVID-19 vaccine resistance. The results show that science-based, moral frame, and social norm messages move behavioral intentions, and do so by the same amount across the population (that is, homogeneous effects). Counter to common portrayals, the politicization of science does not preclude using broad messages that resonate with the entire population.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)698-706
Number of pages9
JournalBritish Journal of Political Science
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 24 2023


  • COVID-19
  • descriptive norms
  • machine learning
  • moral values
  • public health
  • science communication
  • survey experiment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Political Science and International Relations


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