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Anti-intellectualism and the mass public’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic

Anti-intellectualism and the mass public’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic

https://www.nature.com/articles/s41562-021-01112-w

Abstract

Anti-intellectualism (the generalized distrust of experts and intellectuals) is an important concept in explaining the public’s engagement with advice from scientists and experts. We ask whether it has shaped the mass public’s response to coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). We provide evidence of a consistent connection between anti-intellectualism and COVID-19 risk perceptions, social distancing, mask usage, misperceptions and information acquisition using a representative survey of 27,615 Canadians conducted from March to July 2020. We exploit a panel component of our design (N = 4,910) to strongly link anti-intellectualism and within-respondent change in mask usage. Finally, we provide experimental evidence of anti-intellectualism’s importance in information search behaviour with two conjoint studies (N ~ 2,500) that show that preferences for COVID-19 news and COVID-19 information from experts dissipate among respondents with higher levels of anti-intellectual sentiment. Anti-intellectualism poses a fundamental challenge in maintaining and increasing public compliance with expert-guided COVID-19 health directives.

Posted on: April 30, 2021, 5:18 pm Category: Uncategorized

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