This Is AuburnElectronic Theses and Dissertations

“Who Said What?”: Effects of Message Framing and Source Type Toward COVID-19 Vaccinations Intentions Among College Students




Hines, Kacie

Type of Degree

Master's Thesis


Communication and Journalism


Since 2020 the world has experienced a change in our everyday lives due to the COVID-19 disease. As the world tries to return to a place of normalcy, the COVID-19 vaccine aims to do that. Considerable research has examined message framing and the role of celebrities in health communication, but there is little research about their effects on COVID-19 and college students. Thus, building on past research this thesis examines the effects of message framing and source type on Instagram with the goal to persuade unvaccinated college students to get the COVID-19 vaccine. To address this gap in the literature, a 2 (message frame: loss vs. gain) x 2 (source type: CDC vs. celebrity) online experiment was conducted (N =104). The data showed no significant differences between message type (gain vs. loss-frames) and source type (CDC vs. celebrity) in regard to lowering one’s vaccine hesitancy, and increasing students’ vaccination intentions, attitudes toward the recommended behavior, and social media engagement. However, the supplementary analysis found significant effects for gender. In particular, it was shown that males were more likely to have higher levels of vaccination hesitancy, yet after being exposed to a message advocating for getting the COVID-19 vaccine they reported higher levels of vaccination intentions compared to females.