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Vaccine Nationalism Counterintuitively Erodes Public Trust in Leaders

Colombatto, Clara, Everett, Jim A.C., Senn, Julian, Maréchal, Michel Andre, Crockett, Molly J. (2023) Vaccine Nationalism Counterintuitively Erodes Public Trust in Leaders. Psychological Science, . ISSN 0956-7976. (doi:10.1177/09567976231204699) (KAR id:103953)


Global access to resources like vaccines is key for containing the spread of infectious diseases. However, wealthy countries often pursue nationalistic policies, stockpiling doses rather than redistributing them globally. One possible motivation behind vaccine nationalism is a belief among policymakers that citizens will mistrust leaders who prioritize global needs over domestic protection. In seven experiments (total N=4215), we demonstrate that such concerns are misplaced: nationally representative samples across multiple countries with large vaccine surpluses (Australia, Canada, U.K., and U.S.) trusted redistributive leaders more than nationalistic leaders — even the more nationalistic participants. This preference generalized across different diseases, and manifested in both self-reported and behavioral measures of trust. Professional civil servants however had the opposite intuition and predicted higher trust in nationalistic leaders, and a non-expert sample also failed to predict higher trust in redistributive leaders. We discuss how policymakers’ inaccurate intuitions might originate from overestimating others’ self-interest.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1177/09567976231204699
Additional information: For the purpose of open access, the author(s) has applied a Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) licence to any Author Accepted Manuscript version arising.
Uncontrolled keywords: Trust; Utilitarianism; COVID-19; Vaccine Redistribution; Vaccine Nationalism
Subjects: H Social Sciences
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Human and Social Sciences > School of Psychology
Funders: Leverhulme Trust (
Depositing User: Jim Everett
Date Deposited: 17 Nov 2023 16:36 UTC
Last Modified: 08 Jan 2024 11:48 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

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