Good News for Whom? The Pfizer/BioNTech Vaccine Announcement Reduced Political Trust

61 Pages Posted: 20 Jan 2021 Last revised: 21 Jan 2021

See all articles by Shaun P. Hargreaves Heap

Shaun P. Hargreaves Heap

University of East Anglia (UEA) - School of Economic and Social Studies

Christel Koop

King's College London

Konstantinos Matakos

King's College London, Dept. of Political Economy

Asli Unan

King's College London

Nina Weber

King's College London

Date Written: January 19, 2021

Abstract

The announcement of Pfizer/BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine success on 9 November 2020 led to a global stock market surge. But how did the general public respond to such good news? We report results of a nation-wide natural experiment in the US and the UK on how the vaccine news influenced citizens' government evaluations, anxiety, beliefs and elicited behaviors. While most outcomes were unaffected by the news, trust in government and elected politicians (and their competency) saw a significant decline in both countries. As the news did not concern the government, and the government did not have time to act on the news, our results suggest a dispositional response to positive news more likely to be explained by a form of the psychological mechanism of motivated reasoning. They also offer a novel insight regarding the association between trust in government and compliance with its policies: anxiety might explain both.

Keywords: trust in government, locus of control, anxiety, COVID-19 vaccine, good news, compliance

JEL Classification: C90, D72, D84, D91, Z13

Suggested Citation

Hargreaves Heap, Shaun and Koop, Christel and Matakos, Konstantinos and Unan, Asli and Weber, Nina, Good News for Whom? The Pfizer/BioNTech Vaccine Announcement Reduced Political Trust (January 19, 2021). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3769205 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3769205

Shaun Hargreaves Heap

University of East Anglia (UEA) - School of Economic and Social Studies ( email )

Norwich, Norfolk NR4 7TJ
United Kingdom
+44 (0)1603 593417 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://www.uea.ac.uk/soc/econ/people/hargreavesheap_s.shtml

Christel Koop

King's College London ( email )

London
United Kingdom

Konstantinos Matakos (Contact Author)

King's College London, Dept. of Political Economy ( email )

Strand Campus
London, WC2R 2LS
United Kingdom

HOME PAGE: http://https://sites.google.com/site/kostasmatakos/

Asli Unan

King's College London ( email )

Strand
London, England WC2R 2LS
United Kingdom

Nina Weber

King's College London ( email )

Strand
London, England WC2R 2LS
United Kingdom

HOME PAGE: http://www.ninasophieweber.com/

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