Gender Differences in Fear and Risk Perception During the COVID-19 Pandemic
28 Pages Posted: 7 Apr 2021 Last revised: 6 Dec 2021
Date Written: April 1, 2021
The COVID-19 pandemic has led many people to suffer from emotional distress. Previous studies suggest that women process and express affective experiences, such as fear, with a greater intensity compared to men. We administered an online survey to a sample of participants in the United States that measures fear of COVID-19, perceptions about health and financial risks, and preventative measures taken. Despite the empirical fact that men are more likely to experience adverse health consequences from COVID-19, women report greater fear and more negative expectations about health-related consequences of COVID-19 than men. In light of this, it is surprising that women held more favorable financial outlooks than men. Women also report more negative emotional experiences generally during the pandemic, particularly in situations where other people or the government take actions that make matters worse. Though women report taking more preventative measures than men in response to the pandemic, gender differences in behavior are reduced after controlling for fear. These results shed light on how differences in emotional experiences of the pandemic may inform policy interventions.
Note: Funding Statement: Funding provided by the Virginia Tech Department of Economics and by National Science Foundation (#1541105).
Declaration of Interests: The authors declare that the research was conducted in the absence of any commercial or financial relationships that could be construed as a potential conflict of interest.
Ethics Approval Statement: This study was approved by Virginia Tech’s Institutional Review Board (IRB #17-813). Participants provided informed consent and received $2 compensation for their time.
Keywords: Gender Differences, COVID-19, Fear, Health Behavior, Beliefs, Risk Perception, Affect Heuristic
JEL Classification: D91, I12, J16
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation