COVID-19 Denial Depends on a Population’s Trust in Social Institutions
An international team of scholars studied how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted Europeans’ stress levels and their trust in their national governments and the healthcare systems. They found that respondents were most stressed by the state of the national economy, and only after that, by the risk of catching COVID-19 and possibly being hospitalized. In Western Europe, people trust their governments more than in other EU countries. The results of the study were published in Royal Society Open Science.
The authors of the study represent over 50 universities. Among them is Dmitrii Dubrov, Junior Research Fellow at the HSE Centre for Sociocultural Research, who developed and organized the global survey, COVIDiSTRESS. The researchers studied the psychological consequences of the current pandemic-related crisis, as reflected in stress levels. Over 150,000 respondents from over 50 countries participated in the study. The results (below) include answers from 75,570 respondents in 27 countries of the European Union (EU), who were surveyed from March 30 to April 20, 2020.
The general level of respondents’ stress was measured on a 10-grade scale developed by psychologists Cohen, Kamarck, and Mermelstein (1983). This scale illustrates people’s stress levels over the course of a recent week. The study participants were asked, for example, whether they experienced a lack of control over events, felt pressure due to growing difficulties, or disappointment due to unexpected change. Scores over 2.4 points were considered moderate, while those over 3.7 were considered high.
Dmitrii Dubrov, Junior Research Fellow at the HSE Centre for Sociocultural Research
Stress is a natural human reaction to negative change. We wanted to find out how humans would behave under stress, during the pandemic, whether they would follow recommendations by the WHO and authorities on how to protect oneself and others from COVID-19.
In many EU countries, levels of stress were moderate or even low. Poland and Portugal demonstrated the highest levels of stress in Europe, while the lowest rates were registered in Denmark and the Netherlands. Women worried more about the pandemic’s consequences than men. The respondents were 74.18% female and 24.63% male.
The study participants also talked about the reasons of stress. The results showed that Europeans are most of all concerned about the state of the national economy, with the risk of catching COVID-19 and being hospitalized coming in second place. A total of 24 factors were indicated, including concerns about family and friends, work, or feeling isolated.
The respondents were also asked about their trust in the six key institutions, such as the healthcare system, the WHO, the police, social services, and national governments. Europeans demonstrate the highest levels of trust in their national healthcare systems and the WHO. Trust in national governments was lower than in other institutions. Finland and Denmark demonstrated the highest levels of trust in their governments. On the contrary, people in Bulgaria and Poland were much less inclined to trust their respective national governments.
The participants also evaluated the adequacy of anti-COVID measures implemented by their governments. Citizens of Slovenia and Slovakia believed the national measures to be excessive, while people in Hungary and France thought they were insufficient. Populations in countries were people trust their governments’ efforts better, also better comply with social distancing guidelines.
‘We have learned that COVID-19 denial depends on people’s trust in social institutions, a belief that the government won’t leave them on their own with their problems. Institutional trust in impacted by many factors, such as the level of corruption in the country. The results of our study can be used to prepare recommendations on how governments should communicate with people in situations of uncertainty. As we discovered here, the problem is global, which means that systematic work with citizen’s demands is needed,’ Dmitrii Dubrov said.
Researchers Mario Guarracino from the HSE Laboratory of Algorithms and Technologies for Networks Analysis in Nizhny Novgorod and Julius Žilinskas and Algirdas Lančinskas from Vilnius University, have proposed a new method of testing for COVID-19. This group method allows results to be obtained 13 times faster as compared to individual testing of each sample. The research paper was published in the journal Scientific Reports.
On March 29, HSE is fully transitioning to in-person instruction. However, since March 1 some departments, including ICEF, have been conducting seminars on campus while holding lecture courses online. Oleg Zamkov, Academic Supervisor of the ICEF Bachelor’s programme, spoke about how ICEF survived the rapid transition to online exams, what LSE professors have to say about the effectiveness of the online exams, and what digital innovations that were implemented during the remote period will be used moving forward.
HSE University researchers have become the first in the world to discover genetic predisposition to severe COVID-19. The results of the study were published in the journal Frontiers in Immunology.
The HSE Institute for Statistical Studies and Economics of Knowledge has released the results of its survey on digital practices in 2020, which illustrate the changes in how people have mastered new formats to solve routine tasks.The HSE Institute for Statistical Studies and Economics of Knowledge has released the results of its survey on digital practices in 2020, which illustrate the changes in how people have mastered new formats to solve routine tasks.
Biologists and mathematicians from HSE University, Skoltech and the RAS Kharkevich Institute have studied the spread of COVID-19 in Russia. The main part of the study was completed in late June, but until October, the team was working with data following the reviewers’ recommendations. The paper was published on January 28, 2021 in the journal Nature Communications. MIEM students spoke about their contribution to the research.
Countries with reserve currencies, sufficient fiscal capacity to implement soft fiscal policies, and access to global capital markets have the best chance of recovering from the coronavirus crisis. The rest may need external assistance. These are the conclusions drawn by Alexei Kireyev, leading IMF economist and visiting professor at HSE University’s School of World Economy.
Researchers Yulia Chilipenok, Olga Gaponova, Nadezhda Gaponova and Lyubov Danilova of HSE – Nizhny Novgorod looked at how the lockdown has impacted Russian women during the COVID-19 pandemic. They studied the following questions: how women divided their time; how they worked from home; how they got on with their partners and children; and how they dropped old habits and started new ones in relation to nutrition, health, beauty, and self-development.
Those who consider themselves healthy will be more willing to comply with COVID restrictions if they believe, according to their own estimations, that the expected losses from the disease will be significant, suggest researchers of the Faculty of Economic Sciences at HSE University.
Researchers at HSE and Lomonosov Moscow State University analyzed data on Russians’ movements during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. Their analysis showed that residents of lower-income municipalities self-isolated less compared to residents of higher-income cities. The findings were published in the journal Environment and Planning A.
How high is the risk of a full-blown financial crisis after the pandemic? Which countries and regions are most at risk? Are national governments managing to cope with the challenge of preventing economic collapse? Such topics were the focus of attention at the annual conference organised by the HSE University Faculty of World Economy and International Affairs.