Compelled To be Bad: A Critical Examination of How Online Anti-Vaccination Groups Are Used in the Resistance to not Vaccinate

Date of Award


Document Type


First Advisor

Rebecca Overmyer-Velazquez


Despite the success of vaccinations and the near eradication of several diseases, vaccinations are still met with resistance today. Why voluntary vaccinations succeed or fail, may be attributed to certain factors. Current research tells us that those factors are; political identity, peer influence, mass media and psychological influences all play a role in one's decision to vaccinate. Specifically, conservatives are found to have higher levels of mistrust towards the government and fear government regulation. Furthermore, certain forms of cognitive thinking are identified as contributing factors when one is deciding to vaccinate.

However, this study examines how online communities strengthen the resistance to not vaccinate. A survey was distributed through a Facebook organization and over 200 worldwide responses were collected. Observational data was also collected through the Facebook group. The examination of anti-vaccination networks on Facebook is important because of how accessible Facebook is. Simultaneously, Facebook fosters the perfect environment for anti-vaccination messages to be spread as strangers share personal experiences and videos regarding vaccinations. This mentality makes the movement more durable as it can heighten peer influence. Furthermore, Facebook currently stands as the most popular social networking site with the largest user base.


Access to this thesis is limited to the Whittier College community. Contact for additional information.

This document is currently not available here.