Psychological theorem supposes that serious threats cause negative attitudes by ingroups to outgroups, i.e., outgroup bias. For example, the behavioral immune system theory claims a chain reaction from infectious threats to outgroup bias as the human defense against pathogens. However, what reduces outgroup bias from threats to health caused by a pandemic is unknown. This study deals with this missing argument by focusing on threats to health by COVID-19, which have caused negative attitudes toward racial/ethnic groups, immigrants, or tourists worldwide. In particular, this study provides evidence that health certifications to prove immunity or negativity for COVID-19 contribute to reducing the outgroup bias. Using a discrete choice experiment with a randomized conjoint design in Japan, we investigated public attitudes toward inbound travelers entering the country, including foreigners, immigrants, or tourists. We found that those inbound travelers carrying a health certificate have a higher probability of being admitted entry by host residents: a vaccination certificate by 31 percent and a negative certificate by 27 percent. These effects are the same size as those travelers undergoing self-isolation. Our results demonstrate that health certifications can mitigate outgroup bias among ingroups facing threats to health by COVID-19. We anticipate our study to support the introduction of a vaccine passport, which is often denied in terms of inequality between vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals. At the same time, especially for unvaccinated travelers, this study suggests that a negative certificate can be an alternative to a vaccine passport.
Yoshiaki Kubo is an Associate Professor at the Department of Law, Politics and International Relations, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, University of the Ryukyus, Japan, and; Joint Researcher at Research Institute for Humanity and Nature, Japan. He is also a former Academic Associate at Program on U.S.-Japan Relations, Weatherhead Center for International Affairs, Harvard University, USA, and; former Visiting Scholar at Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures, Hamilton Lugar School of Global and International Studies, Indiana University Bloomington, USA. He received a Ph.D. and M.A. in Political Science from the University of Tsukuba, Japan, and; B.A. in Law from Chuo University, Japan.
Isamu Okada is an Associate Professor at the Graduate School of International Development, Nagoya University. He received a Ph.D. and M.A. in Political Science from the University of Tsukuba, Japan.
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