Testing Negative: The Non-Consequences of COVID-19 on Mass Ideology

28 September 2021, Version 1
This content is an early or alternative research output and has not been peer-reviewed at the time of posting.


Responding to COVID-19, governments implemented large-scale economic and social policies of unprecedented scale. This highlighted the state's capacity to guarantee economic and health security, and affected demographic groups that are less commonly beneficiaries of state support. We hypothesise that exposure to the pandemic and these policy responses caused change in attitudes to the role of government in the economy and redistribution. We test this expectation using data from the (2014–present) British Election Study panel, together with a unique panel survey fielded to existing BES respondents in April and September, 2020. We find virtually no evidence of any effect on ideological beliefs. Moreover, using a survey experiment, we find exposure to cues linking the pandemic to greater roles for government has no impact on ideological beliefs. We conclude that such elite rhetoric, even if it had been present in the field, would not have yielded ideological change.


Public Opinion
Political Economy


Comments are not moderated before they are posted, but they can be removed by the site moderators if they are found to be in contravention of our Commenting Policy [opens in a new tab] - please read this policy before you post. Comments should be used for scholarly discussion of the content in question. You can find more information about how to use the commenting feature here [opens in a new tab] .
This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy [opens in a new tab] and Terms of Service [opens in a new tab] apply.