How do different threat types caused by Covid-19 affect trust in science through issue ownership beliefs?
AuthorAkkurt, Sümeyra Bengisu
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The recent findings suggest that people's reactions vary based on the type of threat, and the mixed results on the relationship between threat and political reactions might stem from this variation in the threat types. Eadeh and Chang (2020) employed the issue ownership model to explain these mixed results, which is based on the notion that certain parties are perceived as more competent to deal with specific problems as the owner of a particular issue. Although the COVID-19 pandemic invokes different types of threats (e.g., health, scarcity, or social isolation), few experimental studies have been conducted to determine whether different threat types caused by the pandemic lead to different outcomes. In the current study, we experimentally tested the issue ownership model in the COVID-19 context. Using a similar approach to Eadeh and Chang, we investigated the degree to which scientific advancements and/or the governments are viewed as issue owners for resolving different threats posed by COVID-19. We also examined how different threats influence belief in different conspiracy theories ("COVID-19 as a hoax" and "COVID-19 as a bioweapon") and trust in science. We developed scenarios to manipulate the economic, health, and social threats and investigated how people react to them. Afterward, participants were asked to write open-ended statements to express their feelings while imagining themselves facing one of these threats. Finally, we presented a manipulation refresher and a manipulation check question to the participants. The findings indicated no significant difference between the threat conditions and the control condition in terms of participants' issue ownership beliefs, conspiracy beliefs, and trust in science, and the manipulation was not effective. Overall, the findings suggest that manipulating threat experimentally during a pandemic is more complicated than previously assumed in the political psychology literature since the baseline threat level are already at the peak.
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