Framing policies to mobilize citizens' behavior during a crisis: Examining the effects of positive and negative vaccination incentivizing policies

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The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the issue of mobilization policies, that is, government practices directed at making the mass public voluntarily perform various behaviors for the collective benefit during a crisis. As COVID-19 vaccinations became accessible, governments faced the challenge of mass vaccination mobilization in order to achieve herd immunization. Aiming to effectively realize this goal, policy designers and regulators worldwide considered various mobilizing tools for vaccination compliance, including rewards and penalties, as they targeted vaccine opposers and hesitators, while trying to avoid the crowding-out effect among individuals who were intrinsically motivated to get vaccinated. However, the unique circumstances of the Coronavirus pandemic may have eliminated the crowding-out effect. Thus, our study explored the effect of regulation in the form of positive and negative incentivizing tools (i.e., rewards and penalties) during the coronavirus pandemic on vaccination intentions of 1184 Israeli citizens, prior to the national vaccination campaign. Results indicate that (1) both negative and positive incentives have a similar positive effect on individuals who declare they will not get vaccinated and those who hesitate to get the shot; (2) both positive and negative incentives induce the crowding-out effect; and (3) negative incentives generate a larger crowding-out effect in individuals who report preliminary intentions to get vaccinated, compared to positive ones. This emphasizes the need to avoid the crowding-out effect during the current and similar crises, and suggests considering applying a gradual and adaptive policy design in order to maximize regulatory efficacy and compliance.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)570-591
Number of pages22
JournalRegulation and Governance
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 The Authors. Regulation & Governance published by John Wiley & Sons Australia, Ltd.


  • COVID-19
  • crowding-out
  • incentives' architecture
  • mobilizing policies
  • policy tools
  • vaccine compliance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Public Administration
  • Law


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