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The Optimism Bias Reducer (OBR) program - "One unvaccinated child is enough"

Behavioral science insights positively influencing caretakers by debasing the perceptions of the risk about vaccination

Photo of Pedro Del Carpio
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Describe what you intend to do and how you'll do it in one sentence (required 250 Characters)

Positively influence fathers' perception of the risk about vaccination, by using behavioral science insights to make uninvolved dads care about the vaccination status of ALL the children in their community in order to protect their own kids.

Explain the idea (less than 2,000 characters)

A key factor that contributes to vaccine insufficiency is the difficulty to perceive vaccination as something necessary. Beyond information access, this barrier can be attributed to a group of cognitive biases. Perhaps the most pervasive one is the hard time humans have when trying to correctly estimate probabilities and payoffs of the decisions we make -the cornerstones of rational decision-making. When dealing with the choice to get their children vaccinated or not, parents suffer of what is known as Optimism Bias. In this context, it is the human tendency to believe they -and their family- are less likely to suffer harm than others under the same situation. Expressions like “Mmm vaccines can be good, but I don’t think MY kids need it” are the manifestation of this bias. This is a fundamental problem because if people believe their children are less likely to be in danger than the others, they will overlook or simply dismiss the need of vaccination. Research has shown that overconfidence is more prevalent in men. Our project aims to tackle this set of human cognitive limitations by implementing a series of campaigns as part of the Optimism Bias Reducer program which will reduce complacency and increase the involvement of the male figure within families in rural towns. Our behavioral science-based approach bypasses psychological resistance (in the form of Optimism Bias) to pro-vaccination evidence by putting the focus of risk in the other kids of the community, instead of focusing on trying to convince fathers of the risk of their own unvaccinated kids. The first solution of the OBR program is the implementation of a communication campaign via regional newspapers and radio stations with male-oriented content. 1st Communication Concept: “Your kids might not be the most vulnerable, but if one child in the community is not vaccinated, they are all in danger. Ask other fathers if they know if their kids are up to date with their vaccines”.

Which part(s) of the world does this idea target?

  • North Africa
  • Eastern Africa
  • Middle Africa
  • Southern Africa
  • Western Africa
  • Central America
  • South America
  • Southern Asia

Geographic Focus (less than 250 Characters)

Areas of South and Central America and African countries where the role of the male figure and community norms play a key role in the way family decisions are made.

Who are your end users and how well do you know them? (750 characters)

End users are the fathers of the community. Men from different ages have families and fulfill the role of providers of resources and many times have "the last word" regarding family issues. Even though many times the paternal figure is not involved in decisions about their children, there is an opportunity to change this by using the protector and leadership role they want to embody as part of their desired identity. The director of the team has had the opportunity to live in the Andes of Peru, where he was able to see and understand the social mechanisms behind family decision-making process in rural communities.

How is the idea unique? (750 Characters)

1) Unlike the vast majority of global efforts targeted toward mothers, this project embraces a novel approach by focusing on men. This is a response to the overlooked fact that men play (for good or bad) a critical role in the vaccination of their children. For example, research has found the likelihood of child vaccination is influenced by the level of education of the father (see article "Rammohan et al (2012) Paternal education status significantly influences infants’ measles vaccination uptake, independent of maternal education status"). 2) This project is based on core principles of behavioral sciences to reduce the Optimism Bias that affect the estimation of risk by parents and the concomitant lack of children vaccination.

Idea Proposal Stage (Select 1)

  • Blueprint: We are exploring the idea and gathering the inspiration and information we need to test it with real users.

How many months are required for the project idea? (140 characters)

1 month for the design stage, 6 months of experimental stage, 1 month of analysis of data, 1 month of design adjustments

Organization Name (less than 140 characters)

Heurística Lab

Type of Submitter

  • We are a For-Profit Startup or Startup Social Enterprise

Organization Location (less than 140 Characters)

We are located in Lima, Peru.

What is the current scale of your organization’s work?

  • National (expansive reach within one country)

Website URL

Tell us more about your organization/company (1-2 sentences)

Heurística is a research and strategic advisory agency, specialized in the application of behavioral science in Peru and Latin America. We exist to help our partners and clients understand human decision-making and design better products (goods and services), programs and public policies. The Optimism Bias Reducer (OBR) program is an expression of our goal to help improving people's decision-making capacity by making science-based decisions the will benefit society as a whole.

Who will work alongside your organization in the project idea? (750 characters)

The Optimism Bias Reducer (OBR) needs close collaboration from two sides. The national government via the Ministry of Health will be the ideal partner in order to facilitate the access to data regarding vaccination at the small community level in the country. Additionally, being able to collaborate with male leaders in each community will boost the effect of the social network influence expected as part of the psychological mechanisms behind the concept of the campaign.

How many people are on your team?


Tell us more about you and your team

Pedro G. Del Carpio – CEO. MSc in Cognitive and Decision Sciences from University College London - UCL (United Kingdom) and Bachelor of Communications from the University of Lima (Peru). Having worked as a Behavioral Scientist in the technology company Swift Shift (United States), he led projects leveraging behavioral insights to achieve positive behavior change of workers in the health industry. Jose C. Arellano – Scientific Director MSc in Behavioral and Economic Science from the University of Warwick (United Kingdom) Jose has led social and public opinion research projects in areas such as education, health and democracy, and collaborated in behavior change interventions for the BIT of Public Health England (United Kingdom). Anadaniela Del Carpio – Behavioral Science Analyst Social psychologist from PUCP (Peru). She has collaborated in the development of projects regarding bank, telecommunications and early childhood caregiving issues.


Join the conversation:

Photo of Ashley Tillman

Hi Pedro Del Carpio great to have you in the Challenge. Curious to learn where you would intend to implement this idea first and to build on Manisha Laroia 's question, can you share a bit more around how you will find these father's and earn their trust initially?

For inspiration check out another team that's also focusing on engaging fathers in a different setting: Male immunization champions: Using “male immunization champions” as immunization promoters 

Photo of Isaac Jumba

Hi Pedro Del Carpio ,

Really great reading through your idea. I especially like the aspect of the user journey, which helped us visualize the idea.
I'm wondering if there are any thoughts with regards to how you will measure the success of your solution. Also, are there specific organizations in Latin America or E. Africa that you are thinking of reaching out to?

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