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Money is not everything: experimental evidence that payments do not increase willingness to be vaccinated against COVID-19
  1. Philipp Sprengholz1,
  2. Sarah Eitze1,2,
  3. Lisa Felgendreff1,2,
  4. Lars Korn1,2,
  5. Cornelia Betsch1,2
  1. 1 Media and Communication Science, University of Erfurt, Erfurt, Germany
  2. 2 Center for Empirical Research in Economics and Behavioral Sciences, University of Erfurt, Erfurt, Germany
  1. Correspondence to Mr Philipp Sprengholz, Media and Communication Science, University of Erfurt, Erfurt 99089, Germany; philipp.sprengholz{at}


Rapid, large-scale uptake of new vaccines against COVID-19 will be crucial to decrease infections and end the pandemic. In a recent article in this journal, Julian Savulescu argued in favour of monetary incentives to convince more people to be vaccinated once the vaccine becomes available. To evaluate the potential of his suggestion, we conducted an experiment investigating the impact of payments and the communication of individual and prosocial benefits of high vaccination rates on vaccination intentions. Our results revealed that none of these interventions or their combinations increased willingness to be vaccinated shortly after a vaccine becomes available. Consequently, decision makers should be cautious about introducing monetary incentives and instead focus on interventions that increase confidence in vaccine safety first, as this has shown to be an especially important factor regarding the demand for the new COVID-19 vaccines.

  • psychology
  • public health ethics
  • health promotion

Data availability statement

Materials, data, and the data analysis script are available at

This article is made freely available for use in accordance with BMJ’s website terms and conditions for the duration of the covid-19 pandemic or until otherwise determined by BMJ. You may use, download and print the article for any lawful, non-commercial purpose (including text and data mining) provided that all copyright notices and trade marks are retained.

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Data availability statement

Materials, data, and the data analysis script are available at

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  • Contributors PS and CB designed the research. PS, SE, LF and LK performed the research. PS planned and performed data analyses, and wrote the initial draft, which was revised and approved by all authors.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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