Politicizing Mask-Wearing: Predicting the Success of Behavioral Interventions Among Republicans and Democrats in the U.S.
20 Pages Posted: 2 Sep 2021 Last revised: 29 Mar 2022
Date Written: April 28, 2022
Scientists and policymakers seek to choose effective interventions that promote preventative health measures. We evaluated whether academics, behavioral science practitioners, and laypeople (N = 1,034) were able to forecast the effectiveness of seven different messages compared to a baseline message for Republicans and Democrats separately. These messages were designed to nudge mask-wearing attitudes, intentions, and behaviors. When examining predictions across political parties, forecasters predicted larger effects than those observed for Democrats compared to Republicans and made more accurate predictions for Republicans compared to Democrats. These results are partly driven by a lack of nudge effects on Democrats, as reported in Gelfand et al. (2021). Academics and practitioners made more accurate predictions compared to laypeople. Although forecasters' predictions were correlated with the nudge interventions, all groups overestimated the observed results. We discuss potential reasons for why the forecasts did not perform better and how more accurate forecasts of behavioral intervention outcomes could potentially provide insight that can help save resources and increase the efficacy of interventions.
Keywords: Mask-wearing, COVID-19, Forecasting
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