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The limitations of polling data in understanding public support for COVID-19 lockdown policies

Foad, Colin MG and Whitmarsh, Lorraine and Hanel, Paul HP and Haddock, Geoff (2021) 'The limitations of polling data in understanding public support for COVID-19 lockdown policies.' Royal Society Open Science, 8. ISSN 2054-5703

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Abstract

Opinion polls regarding policies designed to tackle COVID-19 have shown public support has remained high throughout the first year of the pandemic in most places around the world; however there is a risk that headline support over-simplifies people’s views. We carried out a two-wave survey with six-month interval on a public sample (N = 212) in the United Kingdom, examining a broad range of perspectives on COVID-19. We find that the majority of people support most public health measures introduced, but that they also see significant side effects of these policies, and that they consider many of these side effects as unacceptable in a cost-benefit analysis. We also find that people judged the threat of COVID-19 via the magnitude of the policy response, and that they do not use their perception of the direct threat to themselves or close others to guide their support for policy. Polling data only offer one simple perspective and do not illustrate the ambivalence people feel around policies relating to COVID-19. There is also a meaningful risk of public opinion and government policy forming a symbiotic relationship, which impacts upon how effectively such policies are implemented both now, and in relation to future threats.

Item Type: Article
Divisions: Faculty of Science and Health > Psychology, Department of
Depositing User: Elements
Date Deposited: 07 Jul 2021 14:39
Last Modified: 07 Jul 2021 15:15
URI: http://repository.essex.ac.uk/id/eprint/30709

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