Nicolle Simonovic earned her PhD at one of the top programs for social and health psychology in the United States, Kent State University.
Dr. Simonovic’s postdoctoral research at the University of Haifa’s Health and Risk Communication Lab in the School of Public Health examines public attitudes and perceptions toward COVID-19 vaccination, including levels of uncertainty and how people think about their risk. Two methods are being used to explore this research, including direct surveying of vaccinated and unvaccinated adults as well as a content analysis of the psychological themes and cultural sensitivity of COVID-19 media campaigns.
Importantly, her research is cross-cultural, in that she is conducting her research in both Israel and the United States (U.S.). Comparisons between the Israel and the US can demonstrate whether findings from one population generalize to the other, thus diversifying the evidence base on which conclusions in the field of psychology are based. The US provides an exemplary comparison because decisions about vaccination in the US are largely based on vaccination data from Israel. Further, if differences across countries are found, a closer examination of what differs between cultures can direct research on why these differences exist, and in turn, how to potentially intervene.
Dr. Simonovic hopes that once these public attitudes and perceptions as well as psychological and cultural factors in vaccination hesitancy are better understood, more effective strategies to engage with different groups will be developed. Further, results of this research could provide a better understanding of how people respond to uncertainty when making health decisions in other contexts.
Dr. Simonovic is enthusiastic about doing research in Israel, a place much of the world looks to for vaccination data. She is especially excited to be conducting her research in Haifa, one of Israel’s most diverse cities, and a fitting environment in which to diversify her research and deepen her own cultural understanding.