Public Opinion and Voting Behavior

COVID-19 related anxieties do not decrease support for liberal democracy

Authors

  • Veronica Anghel European University Institute & Johns Hopkins University SAIS Bologna Center ,
  • Julia Schulte - Cloos LMU Munich – Geschwister Scholl Institute of Political Science

Abstract

Studies carried out at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic confirmed that under the impression of fear individuals were more willing to tolerate violations of liberal-democratic norms, and supported discriminatory policies to preserve public safety. But what are the potential consequences of the pandemic on citizens’ attitudes beyond its peak? We conducted an original experiment in which we manipulate individuals’ cognitive accessibility of their fears related to COVID-19 one and a half years after the onset of the pandemic. We fielded the experiment in Hungary and Romania–two cases most likely to see such attitudes amplify under the condition of fear. Our intervention was successful in elevating respondents’ levels of worry, anxiety, and fear when thinking about infectious diseases like COVID-19. However, these emotions did not affect individuals’ levels of rightwing authoritarianism, nationalism, or outgroup hostility, or their preferences for specific discriminatory policies aimed to fight a potential resurgence of COVID-19.

Content

Thumbnail image of Anghel and Schulte-Cloos_COVID-19 anxieties_support liberal democracy.pdf

Supplementary weblinks

Pre - analysis plan: 'COVID-19 anxieties in Eastern Europe and civic attitudes'
This preregistered pre-analysis plans contains our study information (including the sampling plan and data collection procedures), our hypotheses, design plan (including the survey questions in English, Romanian and Hungarian), and our analysis plan.

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