FECYT - Spanish Foundation for Science and Technology - presented today at the headquarters of the National Museum of Science and Technology, MUNCYT, IN Alcobendas, the results of the third Social Perception Survey of scientific aspects of the COVID-19 in a debate moderated by Pampa García Molina, Editor-in-Chief of the SINC Agency, in which Raquel Yotti, Director of the Carlos III Health Institute of Madrid, Josep Lobera, Professor of Sociology at the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid (UAM) and scientific director of the Social Perception Survey on the scientific aspects of COVID-19 and Pablo Simón, Professor of Political Science at the Carlos III University of Madrid, took part.
The results of this third survey correspond to interviews conducted by telephone with 2,100 individuals from 3 to 21 May 2021 and measures the evolution of vaccine reluctance and its associated social factors. The study with the results of this third survey was also presented during the event and is available on the FECYT website.
The first survey was conducted between 25 June and 15 July 2020 and the second between 4 and 22 January 2021. With the results obtained from both, the report Evolución de la percepción social de aspectos científicos de la COVID-19 (Evolution of Social Perception of Scientific Aspects of COVID-19) was produced.
This series of surveys has been conducted for the FECYT by Professor Josep Lobera (Universidad Autónoma de Madrid) with the collaboration of researcher Pablo Cabrera (Universidad de Salamanca).
Attitudes towards vaccination
Results of the study show that the uptake of covid-19 vaccines consolidates the improvement initiated in January 2021. In July 2020, only one third of the population (32%) expressed with full confidence their intention to be vaccinated as soon as a vaccine was offered by health authorities. In January, that proportion increased to 58% and, in May, it has reached 83% (adding those already vaccinated and those fully confident of doing so).
The main factors associated with reluctance to vaccinate are the belief that vaccines are unsafe, complacency (the perception that when the majority are vaccinated, vaccination is no longer necessary), individualistic values (measured as disengagement from "I would accept the coronavirus vaccine if it helps protect my elders") and the conspiracy mentality around covid-19.
Compliance with COVID-19 preventive measures
Results show a certain relaxation in compliance with prevention measures, particularly in maintaining social distance. In May, only a third of the population (32%) said that they had strictly avoided social contacts in the last month, twenty points less than in January.
On the other hand, only half of the population (49%) say that they have avoided or have been able to strictly avoid being in enclosed spaces with other people outside their living environment. The main factors associated with non-compliance with prevention measures are: 1) non-compliance with the measures by their immediate social environment, 2) lack of trust in health institutions, 3) having a low level of education, and 4) being male. The quadratic effect of educational level points to a possible effect of living/working conditions on the maintenance of prevention norms. On the other hand, conspiracy mentality adds to the list of factors associated with mask use.
COVID-19 conspiracy theories
There is a significant percentage of people who believe in some conspiracy theories. One in four Spaniards (25%) strongly believe that there are secret organisations that strongly influence political decisions and only 17% strongly believe the opposite. Almost a third of the Spanish population (31%) believe that face masks are bad for their health and only 16% firmly believe that they are not. Nearly 8% strongly believe that vaccinating children is harmful, and this fact is hidden, while 35% strongly believe that this is not the case.
58% of the population declare they have seen or heard messages, through one or more media, encouraging people not to be vaccinated against the coronavirus. Twenty-seven per cent say they have heard or seen them on television, while 34% say these messages have come to them via a social network.
The main factors associated with having conspiratorial beliefs about covid-19 are: 1) a previous conspiratorial mindset about vaccines, 2) distrust of political institutions, 3) avoidance of mask use, 4) experiencing social difficulties associated with covid-19 containment measures, 5) being female, and 6) having a low level of education.
Technical data sheet of the survey:
Universe: individuals aged 18 and over resident in Spain for 5 or more years.
Sample size: 2,100 interviews.
Sampling: random selection of the interviewee with a sample stratified by the intersection habitat / autonomous community and distributed proportionally to the total of the region.
Method of data collection: computer-assisted telephone interview (CATI) using a structured and pre-coded questionnaire. The interviews were carried out in 75% of the cases by means of the interviewees' landline telephones and in the remaining 25% by means of their mobile telephones for people who did not have a landline telephone.
Data collection: computer-assisted telephone interview (CATI) using a structured, pre-coded questionnaire. The interviews were carried out in 75% of the cases through the landline phones of the interviewees and in the remaining 25% through their mobile phones for people who did not have a landline phone.
Sampling error: assuming the criteria and principles of simple random sampling, under the assumption of maximum sampling inefficiency due to the non-proportional distribution of the sample, for a confidence level of 95% and in the worst case scenario of maximum indeterminacy (p=q=50%), the margin of error for the total sample can be estimated at +-2.14%.
Fieldwork: between 3 and 21 May 2021.
Fundación Española para la Ciencia y Tecnología, F.S.P. (FECYT), (Spanish Foundation for Science and Technology) is a public foundation under the Ministry of Science and Innovation. Thanks to this collaboration, FECYT works to strengthen the link between science and society through actions that promote open and inclusive science, scientific culture and education, responding to the needs and challenges of the Spanish Science, Technology and Innovation System.