College of Business research paper on omission bias wins JCA Best Paper Award

Stony Brook University College of Business researchers Gary Sherman, Stacey Finkelstein and Paul Connell, along with co-authors from American University, Villanova University and Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, won the Best Paper Award for 2021 from consumption diary.

The article, “When taking action means accepting responsibility: omission bias predicts parental reluctance to vaccinate due to greater anticipated guilt for negative side effects,” explored how individual differences in omission bias – or the tendency to view harm from inaction as preferable to equivalent harm from action – shapes parents’ vaccination decisions for their children.

When parents vaccinate their children, they often consider the trade-offs between vaccinating their children (taking action and potentially causing their children to experience mild or moderate side effects from the vaccine) and not vaccinating (being inactive and potentially inflicting to their child the consequences of being vaccinated – preventable disease).

The research found that those with high omission bias showed greater emotional responses to vaccination, placed less trust in medical care providers, and gave lower priority to vaccination. This article is part of a series of collaborations between business professors and public health providers and policy makers.

Connell and Finkelstein are associate professors of marketing and Sherman is an associate professor of management.

In honor of their work, the team received a nominal cash prize, which they donate to an aid organization in the Global South – regions of Latin America, Africa, Asia and of Oceania – which aims to improve access to vaccines in places where access is often limited.

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