Narratives on COVID-19 and Policy Opinions: A Survey Experiment

60 Pages Posted: 12 Jan 2021

See all articles by Armenak Antinyan

Armenak Antinyan

Wenlan School of Business; Cardiff University - Cardiff Business School

Thomas Bassetti

University of Padua - Department of Economics

Luca Corazzini

Ca Foscari University of Venice - Dipartimento di Economia

Filippo Pavesi

Università Carlo Cattaneo (LIUC) - Institute of Economics; Stevens Institute of Technology - School of Business

Date Written: January 8, 2021

Abstract

Narratives impact people’s opinions on relevant policy issues, and their political context may influence these effects. Indeed, some specific contexts may be more easily swayed by certain stories that provide explanations for current social and economic phenomena. We explore this issue by considering the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic as a natural experiment that creates the ideal conditions for existing narratives to gain momentum and spread. In particular, we run a survey experiment in the US by exposing subjects to two media-based popular explanations on the causes of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Lab narrative attributes the upstart of the pandemic to human error and scientific misconduct in a laboratory in China, while the Nature narrative describes the genetic and biological causes of the virus. We find evidence that subjects’ beliefs on the origins of the disease are influenced by the narrative they are presented with. Moreover, the Lab narrative leads subjects living in Republican leaning states to express less favorable opinions about trade openness and the relevance of climate change relative to those living in Democratic leaning states. Thus, our findings provide support for the idea that recalling stories that are part of larger narratives can lead to divergence of opinions on crucial issues leading to an increase in policy polarization. Finally, we explore the underlying features of social contexts associated with US states’ political orientation, that moderate the impact of narratives on policy opinions.

Keywords: Economic Narratives, COVID-19, Policy Issues, Survey Experiment

JEL Classification: D72, D83, C83, C99, P16, Z18

Suggested Citation

Antinyan, Armenak and Bassetti, Thomas and Corazzini, Luca and Pavesi, Filippo, Narratives on COVID-19 and Policy Opinions: A Survey Experiment (January 8, 2021). University Ca' Foscari of Venice, Dept. of Economics Research Paper Series No. 04/WP/2021, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3764436 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3764436

Armenak Antinyan

Wenlan School of Business ( email )

No.143, Wuluo Road
Wuhan, Hubei 430073
China

Cardiff University - Cardiff Business School ( email )

Aberconway Building
Colum Drive
Cardiff, CF10 3EU
United Kingdom

Thomas Bassetti

University of Padua - Department of Economics ( email )

via Del Santo 33
Padova, 35123
Italy

Luca Corazzini (Contact Author)

Ca Foscari University of Venice - Dipartimento di Economia ( email )

Cannaregio 873
Venice, 30121
Italy

HOME PAGE: http://www.unive.it/pag/16892/

Filippo Pavesi

Università Carlo Cattaneo (LIUC) - Institute of Economics ( email )

21053 Castellanza (VA)
Italy

Stevens Institute of Technology - School of Business ( email )

Hoboken, NJ 07030
United States

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