Steinau an der Strasse, Germany

University of Erfurt
Steinau an der Strasse, Germany

The University of Erfurt is a public university located in Erfurt, Germany. Originally founded in 1389, the university was closed in 1816 for the next 177 years. In 1994, three years after the reunification of Germany, the university was re-established. Wikipedia.

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News Article | April 25, 2017

The beloved novelist and children's author Roald Dahl once wrote an open letter describing how his daughter Olivia suffered from measles when she was 7 years old. Olivia seemed to be recovering, Dahl wrote, and he was sitting on her bed, teaching her how to build animals out of pipe cleaners, when he noticed that she had trouble coordinating her fingers' movements. "‘Are you feeling all right?’ I asked her." "‘I feel all sleepy,’ she said." "In 1 hour she was unconscious. In 12 hours she was dead." That happened in 1962, 1 year before the measles vaccine was developed. The virus had caused Olivia's brain to swell—an often-fatal complication called measles encephalitis. Dahl wrote the letter for the Sandwell Health Authority in the United Kingdom in 1986, hoping it would help persuade parents to vaccinate their children. The letter began circulating again in 2015, when a large measles outbreak that began at Disneyland in Anaheim, California, sickened more than 100 children. Are such emotional stories about the danger of childhood diseases the right way to convince parents wary of vaccines? Yes, says Paul Offit, a pediatrician and head of the Vaccine Education Center at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia in Pennsylvania. "I think we are compelled by fear more than reason," he argues. "You have to make parents realize that their choice isn't a risk-free choice." No, says Gary Freed, a pediatrician studying public health at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. Increasing parents' anxiety may end up making them less likely to immunize their children, he warns. "We have to figure out a way to bring down fear rather than try to fight fear with fear." Welcome to the fraught, complex challenge of trying to get parents to do what's right for their kids. Immunization is generally considered one of the safest and most effective public health strategies. The World Health Organization estimates that vaccines save 2 million to 3 million lives each year. But some parents aren't so sure they want their own children injected. Immunization rates are dropping in many countries, and vaccine-preventable diseases still cause big outbreaks, even in the developed world. Meanwhile, a small but vocal community is spreading misinformation about vaccines and demonizing proponents of immunization. (Google "Paul Offit" and one of the first pictures that comes up is his face with the words "WANTED FOR GENOCIDE.") The question of how to win over parents has spawned a research field of its own, but the studies often have a limited scope, differ in approach, and contradict one another. "It's hard to say how much we actually know," says Cornelia Betsch, a psychologist at the University of Erfurt in Germany who studies vaccination decisions. Still, the work offers some clues on what works, scientists say. And persuasion isn't the only strategy; just making vaccination easier—or harder to refuse—also can have an important impact. When it comes to the Roald Dahl approach, both Freed and Offit can point to research supporting their views. In a 2015 study, researchers split 315 people into three groups. One received information debunking the myth that vaccines cause autism; the second, scientific reading material unrelated to vaccines; and the third, pictures of children suffering from mumps, measles, or rubella, along with a parent's description of a child's illness. In a follow-up questionnaire, the third group viewed vaccines more favorably than before; the others did not. In a 2014 study, Freed also confronted parents with scary pictures and a tragic story. "I would have bet dollars to doughnuts that that would have a positive impact on their decision to vaccinate," he says. But the parents ended up more convinced that the measles vaccine can be dangerous. The material may have just increased parents' overall anxiety level, Freed speculates. Stories about sick children might not work on some parents for several reasons, says Betsch, including a quirk of the human mind called omission bias. People tend to feel that a bad outcome they caused through action is worse than one caused by omission, or doing nothing. In one study, parents rated a vaccination-triggered fever as worse than one caused by illness. That may lead some to reject vaccination, Betsch says: "That way, if something happens it's not their fault, but fate." Still, Betsch believes the Dahl strategy can be useful with some parents, particularly those who skip vaccines more out of convenience than concerns about their safety. When she reanalyzed data from the 2015 paper, she found that only 21 of the 315 participants held antivaccine views. Those people's minds weren't changed; the ones who were convinced were the "fence-sitters," those neither for nor against vaccination. Betsch's conclusion: Forget about hardcore antivaxxers, but focus on those who haven't made up their minds. That group, she says, can be convinced both by highlighting the risks of disease and by correcting misinformation. Choosing where to focus your efforts is important, says Freed, because doctors have limited time to talk to parents. Offit says he can often tell within 30 seconds whether it's worth arguing. If parents are convinced of outrageous claims and think they already know everything, "I just bail," he says. "I know it's not worthwhile." Freed agrees but notes that giving up on hopeless cases can be hard: "These are kids. It's not their fault their parents refuse vaccines." Some researchers have studied the reasons why parents don't vaccinate their kids, in hopes of finding clues to the best strategy. Many parents talk about rumored health risks from immunizations or their negative view of the pharmaceutical industry, for instance, but those may not be the true reasons, says psychologist Stephan Lewandowsky of the University of Bristol in the United Kingdom. He says that's a lesson from his work on climate change doubters, whose real driver often isn't their beliefs about the role of carbon dioxide but rather their conservative political views. In a study published in PLOS ONE, Lewandowsky reported that free-market ideology is a strong predictor of antivaccine sentiments; many libertarian parents oppose vaccinations, seeing them as infringing on parents' rights. (Despite popular perceptions, Lewandowsky found little evidence overall of a link between vaccine resistance and left-wing political views.) Understanding the political undercurrent is important, he says, because it can help choose the messenger: "Ideally you would want a bona fide, well-respected conservative who is speaking out in favor of vaccination." Nobody seems willing to take on that role, he adds. Less surprisingly, Lewandowsky also found a "shockingly high" correlation between conspiratorial thinking and vaccine rejection. "It is much higher than for climate change or genetically modified foods," he says. On Infowars, a right-wing website that U.S. President Donald Trump has praised, parents find headlines such as "Most Dangerous Flu Vaccine Ever Being Pushed on the Public" and "Is the UN Using Vaccines to Secretly Sterilize Women All Over the Globe?" Such myths pose a problem to scientists because believers often interpret evidence against a conspiracy theory as further proof of cover-ups, which means attempts to debunk a conspiracy can backfire, Lewandowsky says. Scientists should still make the effort, he adds—not for the conspiracy thinkers, but for everyone else. "Debunking is important because if you don't debunk, then the antivaxxers have talking points," he says. Experience has taught the same lesson to Roel Coutinho, a former director of the Netherlands's national coordination center for infectious diseases in Bilthoven. When the vaccine against human papillomavirus was rolled out in the Netherlands in 2009, a surge of opposition and rumors about serious side effects took Coutinho and others by surprise. "It's like a virus, it's contagious, the message spreads very fast, and if it's already very big, there is not much you can do about it," he says. Authorities have to act fast, he says, by taking even the most bizarre rumors seriously and countering them with facts. "You cannot simply say, ‘This is bullshit,’ even though you sometimes think it is. That doesn't work." Several studies have shown that casting doubt on the credibility of sources of misinformation can help, Lewandowsky says. That's why it's still important to point out that an influential 1998 paper in The Lancet claiming to show a link between autism and vaccines was fraudulent and has been retracted, he says. (Its main author, Andrew Wakefield, was barred from treating patients in the United Kingdom.) "It was such a paradigm case of overt fraud that dismissing Wakefield is relatively easy now, and we have to do that," Lewandowsky says. Another helpful tactic is appealing to consensus among scientists. A 2015 paper in BMC Public Health showed that telling parents that "90% of medical scientists agree that vaccines are safe and that all parents should be required to vaccinate their children" significantly reduced concern about vaccines. (Similar results have been shown for climate change.) That approach has the advantage that it avoids repeating myths in order to debunk them, which some studies suggest can reinforce the myths. Betsch has explored the power of telling parents that their choice could hurt other people's children. As long as enough people are vaccinated, even those who won't or can't get a vaccine—for medical reasons, for instance—are protected in an effect called herd immunity. When too many people refuse a shot, herd immunity breaks down and vulnerable people get sick. That happened with a 6-year-old German girl who died from a rare measles complication last year; she was infected when she was 3 months old, too young to be vaccinated. Betsch's study recruited more than 2000 participants from three Western and three Asian countries. Some were informed about herd immunity, either in a text or through an interactive game, whereas others weren't. All were asked about their intention to vaccinate against a fictional disease afterward. In South Korea, Hong Kong, and Vietnam, an average of 61% said they would get vaccinated, regardless of whether they had learned about herd immunity. In Germany, the Netherlands, and the United States, only 45% of those who weren't told about herd immunity would get the shot; for those who were, that number was 57%. The higher numbers in Asia might be due to the fact that people in collectivist societies adhere to norms more strictly, Betsch says—or perhaps the Asian participants were already aware of the benefits of immunization to the society as a whole. "Whatever the reason, the data shows that an appeal to herd immunity is especially important in individualistic societies," she says. The science of persuasion may be uncertain, but immunization advocates have other approaches to help increase vaccine coverage. "People always talk about the antivaxxers, but there are so many things in the medical system that keep some people from getting immunizations," Betsch says. Some people delay or skip vaccines not because they are opposed to them, but simply because they find it hard to get an appointment at a convenient time. Making vaccinations as convenient as possible can further increase vaccination rates, Betsch says. The opposite is also true. In the United States, parents have to get an exemption—on medical, religious, or philosophical grounds—if they want to send an unvaccinated child to school. According to a recently published study, states where that process is harder had higher vaccination rates. Michigan had a high rate of unvaccinated kids, but in 2015 it began requiring parents to consult with local public health departments to obtain a waiver, and exemptions plummeted by 35%. Other factors are impossible to legislate, or even measure scientifically: the human interactions whenever a doctor meets a hesitant parent. Freed says being forceful is important. For instance, when people say it might be healthier for their kids to have diseases than not, he says he has a firm answer: "There are very few children paralyzed with polio who feel it was healthier for them to get the disease." Offit agrees that doctors need to be more outspoken and proscriptive. His wife runs a private practice and initially wasn't very successful in convincing wary parents, he says. "Then she basically laid it on the line: ‘If you can't do this, I can't see you. I can't stand that your child is at risk like this.’" Many more parents now agree to the shots, Offit says. "I think passion works."

News Article | November 28, 2016

Topics range from medical imaging to analysis of authority and trust in US politics and society; €87 million in funding for an initial 4.5 years The Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation) is establishing 20 new Research Training Groups (RTGs) to further support early career researchers in Germany. They include three International Research Training Groups (IRTGs) with partners in the UK, New Zealand and Austria. This was decided by the responsible Grants Committee during its autumn session in Bonn. The Research Training Groups will receive funding of around 87 million euros for an initial period of four and a half years. In addition to the 20 new collaborations, the Grants Committee approved the extension of seven Research Training Groups for another four and a half years. This funding instrument enables doctoral researchers to complete their theses in a structured research and qualification programme at a high academic level. In total the DFG is currently funding 206 Research Training Groups, including 41 International Research Training Groups; the 20 new groups will commence their work in 2017. The new Research Training Groups in detail (in alphabetical order by their host universities, including the name of the applicant universities): Sketches, abstracts, notes, records, excerpts, essays, articles and glosses: all these 'small forms' of writing are an essential part of the practice of research, teaching, art and the media. The Research Training Group "The Literary and Epistemic History of Small Forms" intends to study their emergence and development, with which they are also involved in the success of prose, from antiquity to the present day. The group will also seek to understand how processes of understanding are controlled, reflected and channelled in specific media using these small forms. (Host university: Humboldt University of Berlin, Spokesperson: Professor Dr. Joseph Vogl) Imaging techniques such as ultrasound, X-rays and CT scans are well known. Medical findings are established on the basis of the image data produced in technically and mathematically complex processes. However, physicians' diagnoses are normally made on the basis of qualitative arguments, which do not make full use of the information content of image data and in particular the potential of imaging methods. The "BIOQIC - BIOphysical Quantitative Imaging Towards Clinical Diagnosis" Research Training Group will therefore study biophysical quantitative medical imaging to further develop these quantitative methods and apply them in clinical pilot studies to obtain more information from the imaging process. (Host universities: Humboldt University of Berlin and Free University of Berlin / Charité - University Hospital Berlin, Spokesperson: Professor Dr. Ingolf Sack) The Research Training Group "World Politics: The Emergence of Political Arenas and Modes of Observation in World Society" is concerned with the emergence of world politics as a type of politics in its own right. From the perspective of the theory of global society, the group aims to investigate the extent to which the emergence of world politics represents both a consequence and a precondition of the constitution of modern states. Researchers specialising in political science, sociology, history and law will collaborate to address this question. (Host university: University of Bielefeld, Spokesperson: Professor Dr. Mathias Albert) Perception, the authorship of action, emotions, and social and linguistic understanding are central cognitive phenomena. The Research Training Group "Situated Cognition - New Concepts in Investigating Core Mental Phenomena" will combine the philosophy of the mind and cognition with cognition sciences, which closely interact with cognitive neurosciences. The main aim of the group is to identify deficits in existing concepts of the human mind and further develop these concepts such as to give more attention to more recent developments in cognition sciences that are not yet adequately reflected in philosophical theory formation. (Host university: University of Bochum, Spokesperson: Professor Dr. Albert Newen; Additional applicant university: University of Osnabrück) Short-term dynamic loads such as impacts, detonations or earthquakes can cause structures to collapse. The aim of the Research Training Group "Mineral-Bonded Composites for Enhanced Structural Impact Safety" is to make existing buildings and structures more resilient through the addition of thin-layer reinforcements. With the help of new mineral-bonded materials known as composites, the researchers aim to improve the safety of people and the infrastructure essential to their lives. (Host university: Technical University of Dresden, Spokesperson: Professor Dr.-Ing. Viktor Mechtcherine) According to the World Health Organization, more than 422 million people worldwide suffer from diabetes, with approximately 3.7 million mortalities per year. In Germany, experts estimate the number of sufferers at 8 to 10 million. The German-British Research Training Group "Immunological and Cellular Strategies in Metabolic Disease (ICSMD)" aims to achieve a better understanding of the pathophysiology of type 1 and type 2 diabetes and develop strategies to halt the progress of the disease or even discover a cure. (Host university: Technical University of Dresden, Spokesperson: Professor Dr. Stefan R. Bornstein, Cooperation partner: King's College London, Great Britain) The German-Austrian Research Training Group "Resonant Self-World Relations in Ancient and Modern Socio-Religious Practices" will investigate ritual practices which generate, determine or express meaningful relations between people and the world - to other people, things, nature, self, heaven and God or the gods. The nature of these world relations, in turn, says much about a given culture and the social or gender positions which characterise it. The establishment of the group has been approved by the DFG's Grants Committee on Research Training Groups. The Austrian Science Fund (FWF) will reach a decision on co-funding at its next meeting. (Host university: University of Erfurt, Spokesperson: Professor Dr. Jörg Rüpke, Cooperation partner: University of Graz, Austria) The Research Training Group "Configurations of Cinema" understands film as a medium in constant transformation. In three working areas, 'formations', 'usages' and 'localisations', the group intends to analyse the genealogy and transformation of a wide variety of configurations of film, also in regard to the shift from cinemas to portable digital devices. The researchers will thus explore new modes of writing the history of a medium that is subject to constant change and examine film's defining features. (Host university: Goethe University of Frankfurt am Main, Spokesperson: Professor Dr. Vinzenz Hediger) How are authority and trust formed in US politics? How does this happen in American society, in religion and culture? The Research Training Group "Authority and Trust in American Culture, Society, History and Politics" intends to answer these questions. The chosen object of analysis is the USA because, due to its early democratization, egalitarian-libertarian political culture, ethnocultural heterogeneity and international hegemony, the country offers particularly fundamental insights into the problems of authority and trust in the modern age. (Host university: University of Heidelberg, Spokesperson: Professor Dr. Manfred Berg) The Research Training Group "Tip- and Laser-Based 3D-Nanofabrication in Extended Macroscopic Working Areas" will develop manufacturing methods for two-dimensional and three-dimensional structures on a nanometre scale using tip-based and laser-based techniques. The research work will primarily be based on nanopositioning and nanomeasuring machines, allowing structuring and measuring to take place on the same machine. With the aid of this equipment the researchers intend to give particular attention to larger and uneven surfaces, such as optical lenses. (Host university: Technical University of Ilmenau, Spokesperson: Professor Dr.-Ing. Eberhard Manske) Batteries are seen as key components of future technologies such as electric vehicles and energy supplies. The Research Training Group "SIMET - Simulation Mechano-Electro-Thermal Processes in Lithium-Ion Batteries" will work on numerical simulation methods for lithium-ion batteries. The researchers will address the problem in a multi-scale approach in several different orders of magnitude. As well as individual particles, they will simulate the electrode pair and the complete cell. (Host university: Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), Spokesperson: Professor Dr.-Ing. Thomas Wetzel) Patients with chronic diseases of the brain are normally treated with medication, but this is frequently associated with side effects. Neuroimplants, on the other hand, allow localised therapy, but must satisfy many requirements. The Research Training Group "Materials for Brain (M4B): Thin Film Functional Materials for Minimally Invasive Therapy of Brain Diseases" intends to study the use of nanoscale, therapeutically active coatings for implants of this type. Its aim is to achieve the controlled release of substances into the brain by means of the coating. (Host university: University of Kiel, Spokesperson: Professor Dr. Christine Selhuber-Unkel) We do not know enough about the reaction of lake ecosystems to environmental changes to be able to predict reliably whether they actually return to their original state following renaturation measures. Taking the example of Lake Constance, the Research Training Group "R3 - Responses to Biotic and Abiotic Changes, Resilience and Reversibility of Lake Ecosystems" aims to better understand the reactions of lake ecosystems to environmental changes, their resilience - the resistance of an ecosystem to disturbances - and their reversibility, in other words the ability to return to an original state following disturbance. (Host university: University of Constance, Spokesperson: Professor Dr. Frank Peeters) For many mathematical questions, approximation and dimension reduction are the most important tools for achieving simplified representation and therefore saving computing time. The Research Training Group "Mathematical Complexity Reduction (CoRe)" will approach complexity reduction in a more general sense and will also investigate when problems can be made easier to solve through embedding in higher dimensional spaces ('liftings'). The group also intends to systematically examine the influence of the costs of data collection. (Host university: University of Magdeburg, Spokesperson: Professor Dr. Sebastian Sager) One of the basic requirements for the economic success of a business is the efficient use of resources. In an increasingly networked world, several decision-makers are often involved in resource management and the amount of data available is growing. The Research Training Group "Advanced Optimization in a Networked Economy (AdONE)", based in the fields of operations research and management science, aims to develop models and processes and transfer these into software solutions designed to enable efficient use of resources through intelligent planning and control. (Host university: Technical University of Munich, Spokesperson: Professor Dr. Stefan Minner) Rapidly increasing antibiotic resistance and the growth of so-called lifestyle diseases confront humanity with enormous challenges. In the Research Training Group "Evolutionary Processes in Adaptation and Disease (RTG EvoPAD)", doctoral researchers in biology, medicine and the philosophy of science will therefore investigate adaptations and diseases by drawing on modern evolutionary research and approaches in the philosophy of science, in order to better understand them. (Host university: University of Münster, Spokesperson: Professor Dr. Joachim Kurtz) The development of metropolises prior to the age of industrialisation and globalisation has not, so far, been the subject of sufficient research. The "Pre-Modern Metropolitanism" Research Training Group intends to close this gap by investigating the establishment, impact and evolution of major urban centres from Ancient Greece and Rome to the dawn of the industrial age. (Host university: University of Regensburg, Spokesperson: Professor Dr. Jörg Oberste) Until now there have been few if any approaches to the improvement of robots that work with easily modifiable materials or handle soft tissue. In a German-New Zealand Research Training Group, doctoral researchers will investigate "Soft Tissue Robotics - Simulation-Driven Concepts and Design for Control and Automation for Robotic Devices Interacting with Soft Tissues". The aim is to further develop simulation techniques and sensors in order to enable new regulation and control technology for robots that interact with soft materials. (Host university: University of Stuttgart, Spokesperson: Professor Oliver Röhrle, Ph.D., Cooperation partner: University of Auckland, New Zealand) For many tumours there are no means of prevention, which is why they are usually diagnosed in advanced stages. It is also difficult to develop efficient therapies for tumours because there are genomic differences not only between different tumours (intertumoral) but also within a single tumour (intratumoral), which contributes to therapy resistance. The Research Training Group "Heterogeneity and Evolution in Solid Tumors (HEIST): Molecular Characterization and Therapeutic Consequences" aims to understand intra- and intertumoral heterogeneity, the evolutionary history of a tumour and the genes responsible for it in order to improve the treatment of tumours even in advanced stages. (Host university: University of Ulm, Spokesperson: Professor Dr. Thomas Seufferlein) Aberrations in what is known as the ubiquitin system in the body contribute to the development of a wide range of diseases such as cancer, neurodegenerative diseases and infectious diseases. The aim of the Research Training Group "Understanding Ubiquitylation: From Molecular Mechanisms To Disease" is therefore to understand the biochemical and pathogenic mechanisms which underlie diseases associated with the ubiquitin system. (Host university: University of Würzburg, Spokesperson: Professor Dr. Alexander Buchberger) Further information will also be provided by the spokespersons of the Research Training Groups. More details about the funding programme and the funded Research Training Groups is available at: http://www.

Betsch C.,University of Erfurt | Sachse K.,TU Berlin
Health Psychology | Year: 2013

Objective: Information about risks is often contradictory, especially in the health domain. A vast amount of bizarre information on vaccine-adverse events (VAE) can be found on the Internet; most are posted by antivaccination activists. Several actors in the health sector struggle against these statements by negating claimed risks with scientific explanations. The goal of the present work is to find optimal ways of negating risk to decrease risk perceptions. Methods: In two online experiments, we varied the extremity of risk negations and their source. Perception of the probability of VAE, their expected severity (both variables serve as indicators of perceived risk), and vaccination intentions. Results: Paradoxically, messages strongly indicating that there is "no risk" led to a higher perceived vaccination risk than weak negations. This finding extends previous work on the negativity bias, which has shown that information stating the presence of risk decreases risk perceptions, while information negating the existence of risk increases such perceptions. Several moderators were also tested; however, the effect occurred independently of the number of negations, recipient involvement, and attitude. Solely the credibility of the information source interacted with the extremity of risk negation: For credible sources (governmental institutions), strong and weak risk negations lead to similar perceived risk, while for less credible sources (pharmaceutical industries) weak negations lead to less perceived risk than strong negations. Conclusions: Optimal risk negation may profit from moderate rather than extreme formulations as a source's trustworthiness can vary. © 2012 American Psychological Association.

Betsch C.,University of Erfurt
Eurosurveillance | Year: 2011

This paper provides a psychological perspective on the possible effect of the Internet on the decision against vaccination. The reported importance of the Internet in health decisions is still low, but rising; especially the amount of interactive use of the Internet is increasing, e.g. due to the use of social media. It is argued that the fact that individuals do not report the Internet to be an important source of information does not necessarily mean that the information obtained in their Internet searches is not influential in their decisions. Evidence is summarised here regarding the (anti-)vaccination information on the Internet, and its influence on risk perceptions and on vaccination intentions and behaviour in relation to the encoded information. The conclusion suggests that scholars should strive to explain the underlying processes and potential mediators of vaccination decisions to increase the effectiveness of health communication. In reference to a definition of evidence-based medicine, a great future challenge lies in evidence-based public health communication based on interdisciplinary research involving public health, medical research, communication science and psychology.

Betsch C.,University of Erfurt | Wicker S.,Goethe University Frankfurt
Vaccine | Year: 2012

Objective: was to improve understanding of mechanisms contributing to healthcare personnel's (HCP) reluctance to get vaccinated against seasonal influenza. We assessed the role of several drivers: vaccination knowledge, vaccination recommendations and the role of the Internet (so-called e-health) in creating vaccination knowledge. The key mechanism under consideration was the perceived own risk (regarding disease and the vaccine). Method: 310 medical students at the Frankfurt University Hospital answered an anonymous questionnaire assessing risk perceptions, intentions to get vaccinated, knowledge, preferences regarding information sources for personal health decisions and search-terms that they would use in a Google-search directed at seasonal influenza vaccination. Results: The key driver of vaccination intentions was the perceived own risk (of contracting influenza and of suffering from vaccine adverse events). The recommendation to get vaccinated was a significant, yet weaker predictor. As an indirect driver we identified one's knowledge concerning vaccination. 32% of the knowledge questions were answered incorrectly or as don't know. 64% of the students were e-health users; therefore, additional information search via the Internet was likely. An analysis of the websites obtained by googling the search-terms provided by the students revealed 30% commercial e-health websites, 11% anti-vaccination websites and 10% public health websites. Explicit searches for vaccination risks led to fewer public health websites than searches without risk as a search term. Content analysis of the first three websites obtained revealed correct information regarding the questions of whether the doses of vaccine additives were dangerous, whether chronic diseases are triggered by vaccines and whether vaccines promote allergies in 58%, 53% and 34% of the websites, respectively. These questions were especially related to own risk, which strongly predicted intentions. Correct information on vaccination recommendations were provided on 85% of the websites. Conclusion: Concentrating on the key drivers in early medical education (own risk of contracting influenza, vaccine safety, vaccination recommendation) promises to be a successful combination to increase vaccination uptake in HCP. © 2011 Elsevier Ltd.

Buttelmann D.,University of Erfurt | Bohm R.,University of Erfurt | Bohm R.,RWTH Aachen
Psychological Science | Year: 2014

Humans demonstrate a clear bias toward members of their own group over members of other groups in a variety of ways. It has been argued that the motivation underlying this in-group bias in adults may be favoritism toward one's own group (in-group love), derogation of the out-group (out-group hate), or both. Although some studies have demonstrated in-group bias among children and infants, nothing is known about the underlying motivations of this bias. Using a novel game, we found that in-group love is already present in children of preschool age and can motivate in-group-biased behavior across childhood. In contrast, out-group hate develops only after a child's sixth birthday and is a sufficient motivation for in-group-biased behavior from school age onward. These results help to better identify the motivation that underlies in-group-biased behavior in children. © The Author(s) 2014.

Betsch C.,University of Erfurt
Eurosurveillance | Year: 2014

Vaccination reduces the risk of becoming infected with and transmitting pathogens. The role of healthcare workers (HCWs) in controlling and limiting nosocomial infections has been stressed repeatedly. This has also been recognised at a political level, leading the European Council of Ministers in 2009 to encourage coverage of 75% seasonal influenza vaccine in HCWs. Although there are policies, recommendations and well-tolerated vaccines, still many HCWs refuse to get vaccinated. This article uses literature from psychology and behavioural economics to understand vaccination decisions and the specific situation of HCWs. HCWs are expected to be highly motivated to protect others. However, their individual vaccination decisions follow the same principles (of weighting individual risks) as everyone else’s vaccination decisions. This will lead to decisional conflict in a typical social dilemma situation, in which individual interests are at odds with collective interests. Failure to get vaccinated may be the result. If we understand the motivations and mechanisms of HCWs’ vaccine refusal, interventions and campaigns may be designed more effectively. Strategies to increase HCWs’ vaccine uptake should be directed towards correcting skewed risk perceptions and activating pro-social motivation in HCWs. © 2014, European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC). All rights reserved.

Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: ERC-AG | Phase: ERC-AG-SH6 | Award Amount: 2.33M | Year: 2012

This project takes a completely new perspective on the religious history of Mediterranean antiquity, starting from the individual and lived religion instead of cities or peoples. Lived ancient religion suggests a set of experiences, of practices addressed to, and conceptions of the divine, which are appropriated, expressed, and shared by individuals in diverse social spaces. Within this spatial continuum from the primary space of a) the family, b) the secondary space of associations, c) to the shared space of public institutions and d) trans-local literary communication four research fields are defined. In each of them a sub-project addresses representative complexes of evidence in different parts of the Mediterranean in the Imperial period. They are bound together by the transversal analysis of the interaction of individuals with the agents of traditions and providers of religious services in the various fields. The methodological innovation of the lived ancient religion approach is defined through the notions of religious experience, embodiment, and culture formed in interaction, which are intended to replace the present foci of symbols, rituals, and culture as text. In order to transgress the usual research boundaries of cults and religions the bodies of evidence brought together within the sub-projects cover ancient Mediterranean religion geographically in an extended manner, focusing on Egypt and Italy, Syria and Greece, but also including evidence from the Western and Danubian provinces as well as from North Africa. The project of Lived Ancient Religion is pioneering inasmuch as it develops and tests a far-reaching alternative model to cults and polis religion in order to analyse and describe ancient Mediterranean religion. Its risk lies in modifying the methodology implied in the lived religion approach to contemporary religion for the necessities of a body of evidence that is characteristic of a dead religion.

Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: ERC-SG | Phase: ERC-SG-SH5 | Award Amount: 600.00K | Year: 2010

The project focuses on European - Jewish communication about political and socio-historical events as well as on private discussions. 10 significant correspondences written by German speaking Jewish authors in the 20th century travelling through Europe, Palestine/Israel and to the US, will be analysed to examine how an individual memory as part of the cultural area Europe is shaped. The aim of the project is to examine the interferences of individual and cultural memory in order to show that cultural memory is mainly structured through individual perception. Prof. von Jagow proposes that beyond traditions of describing cultural memory in a historic way the analyses of the letters can widen the perspective because letters as ego-documents are a medium of private and public discussion. Although it is unconventional to analyse a history of European-Jewish communication on the basis of letters, it is evident that these sources open completely new horizons on cultural memory by a theoretical approach beyond the state-of-the art which stems from transdisciplinary methodology. It is grounded in the fact that literary documents are of highest cultural and anthropological value. The project is centered in a highly advanced theoretical approach of history from below centered in emphasizing subjectivity. Works of art are of extraordinary value taking into consideration that they are both: a seismographic code of political and socio-historical reflections and a personal and aesthetic perspective upon. As an another companion of Jewish writing and thought, a history from below emphasizes on subjectivity and perception in order to enlarge the European-Jewish memory in a completely new approach to cultural remembering. This approach is of general interest not only in literary critics, but also in other disciplines like in history, history of science and medicine and ethics.

Agency: European Commission | Branch: H2020 | Program: MSCA-COFUND-FP | Phase: MSCA-COFUND-2014-FP | Award Amount: 2.83M | Year: 2015

The MWK-Fellows programme financed by COFUND aims to allow excellent incoming researchers from countries other than Germany (in accordance with the EU-mobility-rule) to conduct their own, freely chosen, independent research projects in a highly competitive and intellectually vibrant research environment provided by the Max Weber Center for Advanced Cultural and Social Studies (Max-Weber-Kolleg). The Max-Weber-Kolleg is a high-ranking research centre which forms an avant-garde institution of the University of Erfurt. It is distinguished by a unique organisational structure combining the features of an Institute for Advanced Study and a Graduate School and a Weberian research programme. The Weberian research programme combines historical, comparative and interdisciplinary perspectives with an interest in normative issues in the social sciences. It has a focus on societal challenges of contemporary societies, especially (religious) plurality, cultural diversity and social order, processes of acceleration and growth. The core disciplines are sociology, economics, religious studies, law, philosophy and history, but MWK-Fellows programm is open for related areas as well. The Max-Weber-Kolleg is based on the principles of interdisciplinarity and internationality with a long-standing and progressively fine-tuned fellowship programme. By means of the COFUND-action Max-Weber-Kolleg will not only increase the number of international fellows but include a new intersectoral dimension into its fellowship programme. At the Max-Weber-Kolleg, MWK-Fellows will enjoy the best possible support and an opportunity of being connected with larger research projects. Nevertheless the applicants freedom of choice of the research project is fully guaranteed. The MWK-Fellows programme will improve international high-level research and science with and for society and will contribute to the fostering of the European Research Area (ERA), especially in the field of societal challenges.

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