Julie Chytilová and Michal Bauer received the Bedřich Hrozný Prize

Julie Chytilová and Michal Bauer received the Bedřich Hrozný Prize


On Wednesday, April 5, a festive meeting commemorating the 675th anniversary of the founding of Charles University took place in the historic Carolinum building. On the occasion, Julie Chytilová and Michal Bauer received the Bedřich Hrozný Prize for Creative Initiative, for the publication of their study on the refusal of vaccination in the prestigious journal Nature:  

"Publications by Czech social science scientists in this most prestigious multidisciplinary journal are almost non-existent - to our knowledge, this is the first article in which authors from Czech research institutions play a predominant and leading role," says Martin Gregor, Director of the IES, further explaining the importance and contribution of the award-winning research: 

"The empirical research on which Michal Bauer and Julie Chytilová worked together with two colleagues and former IES students, who are now based at the Universities of Milan and Bonn, showed that one of the most important reasons for refusing vaccinations is the distortion of the public's perception of medical doctors' views on vaccination. 

The first questionnaire survey conducted among 10,000 medical doctors in the Czech Republic showed that 89% of doctors trusted the approved vaccines, 90% had been vaccinated, and nearly 96% would recommend the vaccine to their healthy patients. 

However, a second survey of 2101 respondents revealed that people are convinced that only 60% of doctors trust the vaccines and only 57% of doctors would get vaccinated. The research team's hypothesis was that the media's attempt to balance public information and convey conflicting views on media controversies was behind the bias in perceptions of vaccine usefulness and the reluctance to get vaccinated.

The next step of the research was an experiment: information regarding the actual consensus of opinion among the doctors was communicated to a randomly selected half of the respondents of the second survey. The research showed that this information convinced many people and reduced the decision not to get vaccinated by a full 20% over the next 9 months.

Thus, the research highlighted the importance of communicating not only differences of opinion among experts, but also and especially the degree of consensus of expert opinion among the general public. At the same time, it contributes to understanding how information flows influence public decision-making on important issues that have real impacts on their quality of life."

An interview with our colleagues about their research and success was also featured in UK Forum magazine, you can read it here.

Photos: Jan Kolský