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      A Computational Approach to Characterizing the Impact of Social Influence on Individuals’ Vaccination Decision Making

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      PLoS ONE

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          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.

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          Author and article information

          Contributors
          Role: Editor
          Journal
          PLoS One
          PLoS ONE
          plos
          plosone
          PLoS ONE
          Public Library of Science (San Francisco, USA )
          1932-6203
          2013
          9 April 2013
          : 8
          : 4
          Affiliations
          Department of Computer Science, Hong Kong Baptist University, Kowloon Tong, Hong Kong S.A.R
          National Institute for Public Health and the Environment, The Netherlands
          Author notes

          Competing Interests: The authors have declared that no competing interests exist.

          Conceived and designed the experiments: JL SX. Performed the experiments: SX. Analyzed the data: SX. Contributed reagents/materials/analysis tools: JL SX. Wrote the paper: SX JL.

          Article
          PONE-D-12-33287
          10.1371/journal.pone.0060373
          3621873
          23585835

          This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

          Page count
          Pages: 11
          Funding
          The research work reported in this article has been supported in part by the HIT Strategic Development Fund at HKBU. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.
          Categories
          Research Article
          Biology
          Computational Biology
          Population Modeling
          Infectious Disease Modeling
          Medicine
          Epidemiology
          Infectious Disease Epidemiology
          Social Epidemiology
          Infectious Diseases
          Infectious Disease Control
          Infectious Disease Modeling
          Social and Behavioral Sciences
          Psychology
          Behavior
          Adjustment (Psychology)
          Social Psychology

          Uncategorized

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