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


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.

Version notes

This version of the article resulted from the peer review process. The study has now been accepted for publication by the European Journal of Political Research. We are grateful to the editors and the three anonymous reviewers for their comments and feedback.


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.


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 and Discussion 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] .