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.
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.