Communicating with ethnic minorities during COVID-19: An experimental test of the effect of self-, ingroup-, and intergroup-focused messages

Elsevier, Heliyon, Volume 9, June 2023
Frisch-Aviram N., Hasan-Aslih S., Halperin E.

Developing messaging to encourage minorities to adhere to health recommendations has been a complex task for governments worldwide during the COVID-19 crisis. Here, we propose and tests a new typology of messages among minorities that can be used to mobilize compliance and engagement. This typology comprises three messaging treatments emphasizing personal, ingroup, and intergroup benefits. We examine, via an experimental field study, whether there is a difference in the effect of these messages on two policy outcomes, social distancing and vaccine hesitancy, among the Arab minority living in Israel. The findings suggest that social messages, i.e., ingroup and intergroup messages, positively affect social distancing, while self-messaging harms social distancing compliance. Regarding vaccine intake, within the social messages tested, intergroup-focused messages were more effective than ingroup-focused messages for vaccination intentions only among citizens with low trust in the government. We discuss the findings in detail and propose new avenues in theory and practice to foster health policy compliance among minorities.