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HELSEVEL-H-Gode og effektive helse-, omsorgs- og velferdstjenester

Drivers of public responses toward Coronavirus outbreak and implications of social dynamics (COSD)

Alternative title: Reaksjoner i befolkningen på korona utbruddet og ulike tiltak mot pandemien.

Awarded: NOK 4.4 mill.

The purpose of this project is to study how crisis communication and social countermeasures taken by government authorities and other major actors influence public responses under a pandemic. This project will study public response toward countermeasures taken by three major actors: government authorities, business, and individuals. The purpose is to reveal to what extent communication and countermeasures can elicit or reduce public responses such as anxiety and fear. Researchers also want to examine how communication and countermeasures taken will trigger negative reactions from the public, such as complaints, spreading misinformation, and not to follow recommendations from authorities. Positive reactions from the public, such as support for vulnerable groups and trust toward the government, will also be examined. Another purpose of this project is to study broadly public responses toward the outbreak of coronavirus and social countermeasures taken in Norway. It is important to understand consequences of communication and countermeasures taken by authorities and other major actors on the public. Such an understanding can guide policy makers to implement countermeasures and communications that work best in case of a future pandemic outbreak.This project will carry out field experiments in four countries, Norway, Italy, China, and USA. In addition, multiple-wave surveys will be conducted in Norway within the project period. Researchers want to get answers to how public responses toward the Corona-outbreak and countermeasures change over time. The project will be conducted in collaboration with researchers from USA, Italy, and China.

As humanity is facing for the first time in contemporary history, a pandemic with such impactful and unpredictable effects, understanding the drivers of public responses toward the Coronavirus outbreak is essential. Emerging research in the areas of the public’s reactions toward similar epidemics (the Ebola crisis and the SARS epidemic) has been piecemeal. This project aim to apply a more holistic approach to investigate public responses toward the pandemic and actions taken by authorities, individuals and businesses. We develop and test an integrative social psychological theory that combines specific emotional, cognitive, evaluative, and individual difference variables that undergird the public’s reactions to social countermeasures taken to the outbreak of coronavirus. The project is organized in two working packages. WP1 studies public responses toward the outbreak of coronavirus and social countermeasures broadly through a longitudinal survey in Norway, which will exam naturally occurring relationships amongst psychological reactions over time to ascertain the direction of causality. WP2 examines the socio-psychological mechanism underlying public responses toward countermeasures taken by authorities, individuals, and business. Field experiment with adult respondents will be conducted across 4 countries (Norway, Italy, China and USA), which will provide stronger conclusions of causality. This project will contribute to knowledge advancement of the health and social psychology fields by providing an overarching framework to describe public responses toward present and future pandemics. The project output will also have a societal and policy impact by contributing to the management of the crisis both from short- and long-term standpoint. Policymakers can not only derive relevant feedback from predicting public reactions for their application of specific policies, but also anticipate and adjust to the fluctuations in public reactions to real societal changes.

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HELSEVEL-H-Gode og effektive helse-, omsorgs- og velferdstjenester