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Could positive reinforcement help lead us out of pandemic?

Last Updated May 14, 2021 at 7:44 am MDT

CALGARY (CityNews) — We all get a little uncertain when it comes to things that we think could be bad for us.

But if you were given an incentive, would that change your mind?

“For people who are on the fence, ambivalent, not sure, or people who are mostly positive but not very organized, and sort of aren’t getting around to doing it, these kind of positive incentives are actually quite helpful,” said David Hodgins, a professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of Calgary.

From million-dollar prizes being given out in Ohio, to a free beer in Calgary, getting a COVID vaccine is becoming a community effort.

READ MORE: ‘COVID long haulers’ continue to look for answers months after initial infection

“Just show us proof of vaccination and you get one of our neighbourhood blondes,” said Adam Strickland, the taproom manager and the Cold Garden Beverage Company. “Hoping that people go get vaccinated, it’s the only hope to get the pandemic under control.”

“These positive type approaches, work better than punishment or negative reinforcement where people are chastised or told that they should do better, that is not effective,” said Hodgins.

The campaigns handing out free stuff for proof of a shot – also serve another purpose.

“The publicity around these incentives, contribute to overall awareness, good thing, exciting, beneficial if we all get our vaccination it helps with public awareness.”

READ MORE: Calgary maker of promising mRNA vaccine looks to test it against Pfizer in new trial

And Saskatchewan has already started using a spoonful of sugar – to help the vaccines roll out.

“They’re tying the easing up of lockdown to vaccine rates and I thought ‘now there’s an interesting idea, let’s incentivize positive behaviour and reward something positive.'”