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University of Michigan psychologist weighs in on decisions people make on masks, vaccinations

As of Saturday, Michigan lifted mask requirements for most indoor and outdoor settings for fully vaccinated residents. The move matches newly issued guidance from the CDC.
As of Saturday, Michigan lifted mask requirements for most indoor and outdoor settings for fully vaccinated residents. The move matches newly issued guidance from the CDC.

ANN ARBOR, Mich. – As of Saturday, Michigan lifted mask requirements for most indoor and outdoor settings for fully vaccinated residents. The move matches newly issued guidance from the CDC.

There is no way to tell who is vaccinated and who is not, which puts Michigan residents on an honor system. A University of Michigan researcher spoke with Local 4 about how to make the right choice and trust people around you are doing the same.

There is growing concern that more people will choose to not get vaccinated against COVID.

“It does depend on the type and the format of the information that people are getting. So sometimes we’re pretty good and sometimes we’re really not so great,” psychologist Josh Ackerman said.

Ackerman is a researcher at the University of Michigan. He specializes in how people make decisions in times of crisis. He said people all use mental shortcuts that are only as good as the information they have. He said when official sources like the CDC, or other experts, lose people’s trust it’s often hard to separate the good from the bad.

“Education is going to be less important than what those quick heuristics and those quick judgments that you make are and that really all boils down to what is the information that you have in front of you,” Ackerman said.

He said some things work: Incentives can work sometimes and targeted ads with better information can work, too. One thing that doesn’t work is shaming.

“We just don’t see that as a really great strategy. In fact, it tends to really raise the walls between people,” Ackerman said.

Ackerman said we’ll just have to wait and see what people decide.

READ: Tracking COVID-19 vaccines in Michigan: New openings, clinics, appointments

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About the Authors:

Grant comes to Local 4 from Oklahoma City. He joins the news team as co-anchor of Local 4 News Today weekend mornings and is a general assignment reporter.

Kayla is a Web Producer for ClickOnDetroit. Before she joined the team in 2018 she worked at WILX in Lansing as a digital producer.