POSC 213 Research Project

19 June 2020

In the spring of 2020, students enrolled in the Political Psychology of Mass Behavior (POSC 213 taught by Melanie Freeze) constructed an online experiment to explore the effectiveness of various public messages regarding the COVID-19 crisis.

The online survey experiment examined how partisan source cues influence people’s evaluations of actual governor public announcements (released on governor websites or twitter feeds). Public health and policy announcements are important sources of information for the public, but it is unclear whether public health messages originating from partisan sources are fully received by the public as politicization of the pandemic may undermine the effectiveness of these announcements. We also investigated the impact of and health (lives) and economic (livelihood) cost frames regarding the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic on individual emotions and policy attitudes.

The class explored these research questions through an online survey experiment conducted on Amazon’s Mechanical Turk subject pool. The experiment was designed as a 2 X 3 between-subjects factorial experiment that manipulated the partisanship of the source cue for a set of public announcements about COVID-19 responses produced by governors (non-partisan vs partisan source cue provided) and the content of a passage that emphasized the health costs of COVID-19 (lives), the economic costs of COVID-19 (livelihoods), or presented a neutral message about socks in the control condition.The research manuscript is still being revised with the goal of publication, but you can watch this short video to learn more about our research project and preliminary findings.