A computational approach to characterizing the impact of social influence on individuals' vaccination decision making.

Department of Computer Science, Hong Kong Baptist University, Kowloon Tong, Hong Kong S.A.R.
PLoS ONE (Impact Factor: 3.53). 04/2013; 8(4):e60373. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0060373
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT In modeling individuals vaccination decision making, existing studies have typically used the payoff-based (e.g., game-theoretical) approaches that evaluate the risks and benefits of vaccination. In reality, whether an individual takes vaccine or not is also influenced by the decisions of others, i.e., due to the impact of social influence. In this regard, we present a dual-perspective view on individuals decision making that incorporates both the cost analysis of vaccination and the impact of social influence. In doing so, we consider a group of individuals making their vaccination decisions by both minimizing the associated costs and evaluating the decisions of others. We apply social impact theory (SIT) to characterize the impact of social influence with respect to individuals interaction relationships. By doing so, we propose a novel modeling framework that integrates an extended SIT-based characterization of social influence with a game-theoretical analysis of cost minimization. We consider the scenario of voluntary vaccination against an influenza-like disease through a series of simulations. We investigate the steady state of individuals' decision making, and thus, assess the impact of social influence by evaluating the coverage of vaccination for infectious diseases control. Our simulation results suggest that individuals high conformity to social influence will increase the vaccination coverage if the cost of vaccination is low, and conversely, will decrease it if the cost is high. Interestingly, if individuals are social followers, the resulting vaccination coverage would converge to a certain level, depending on individuals' initial level of vaccination willingness rather than the associated costs. We conclude that social influence will have an impact on the control of an infectious disease as they can affect the vaccination coverage. In this respect, our work can provide a means for modeling the impact of social influence as well as for estimating the effectiveness of a voluntary vaccination program.

  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: How effective are governmental incentives to achieve widespread vaccination coverage so as to prevent epidemic outbreak? The answer largely depends on the complex interplay among the type of incentive, individual behavioral responses, and the intrinsic epidemic dynamics. By incorporating evolutionary games into epidemic dynamics, we investigate the effects of two types of incentives strategies: partial-subsidy policy in which certain fraction of the cost of vaccination is offset, and free-subsidy policy in which donees are randomly selected and vaccinated at no cost. Through mean-field analysis and computations, we find that, under the partial-subsidy policy, the vaccination coverage depends monotonically on the sensitivity of individuals to payoff difference, but the dependence is non-monotonous for the free-subsidy policy. Due to the role models of the donees for relatively irrational individuals and the unchanged strategies of the donees for rational individuals, the free-subsidy policy can in general lead to higher vaccination coverage. Our findings indicate that any disease-control policy should be exercised with extreme care: its success depends on the complex interplay among the intrinsic mathematical rules of epidemic spreading, governmental policies, and behavioral responses of individuals.
    Scientific Reports 07/2014; 4:5666. · 5.08 Impact Factor
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: The transmission of infectious, yet vaccine-preventable, diseases is a typical complex social phenomenon, where the increasing level of vaccine update in the population helps to inhibit the epidemic spreading, which in turn, however, discourages more people to participate in vaccination campaigns, due to the “externality effect” raised by vaccination. We herein study the impact of vaccination strategies, pure, continuous (rather than adopt vaccination definitely, the individuals choose to taking vaccine with some probabilities), or continuous with randomly mutation, on the vaccination dynamics with a spatial susceptible-vaccinated-infected-recovered (SVIR) epidemiological model. By means of extensive Monte-Carlo simulations, we show that there is a crossover behavior of the final vaccine coverage between the pure-strategy case and the continuous-strategy case, and remarkably, both the final vaccination level and epidemic size in the continuous-strategy case are less than them in the pure-strategy case when vaccination is cheap. We explain this phenomenon by analyzing the organization process of the individuals in the continuous-strategy case in the equilibrium. Our results are robust to the SVIR dynamics defined on other spatial networks, like the Erdős–Rényi and Barabási–Albert networks.
    Chaos Solitons & Fractals 05/2014; s 62–63:36–43. · 1.50 Impact Factor
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Different models of social influence have explored the dynamics of social contagion, imitation, and diffusion of different types of traits, opinions, and conducts. However, few behavioral data indicating social influence dynamics have been obtained from direct observation in `natural' social contexts. The present research provides that kind of evidence in the case of the public expression of political preferences in the city of Barcelona, where thousands of citizens supporting the secession of Catalonia from Spain have placed a Catalan flag in their balconies. We present two different studies. 1) In July 2013 we registered the number of flags in 26% of the the city. We find that there is a large dispersion in the density of flags in districts with similar density of pro-independence voters. However, we find that the density of flags tends to be fostered in those electoral district where there is a clear majority of pro-independence vote, while it is inhibited in the opposite cases. 2) During 17 days around Catalonia's 2013 National Holiday we observed the position at balcony resolution of the flags displayed in the facades of 82 blocks. We compare the clustering of flags on the facades observed each day to equivalent random distributions and find that successive hangings of flags are not independent events but that a local influence mechanism is favoring their clustering. We also find that except for the National Holiday day the density of flags tends to be fostered in those facades where there is a clear majority of pro-independence vote.


Available from