Gender and Anxiety during COVID-19: Implications for Media Consumption, Knowledge, and Mitigation Behavior
Posted: 23 Feb 2022
Date Written: February 17, 2022
Did the early impact of the COVID-19 pandemic differ by gender? Existing research finds that traditional gender roles still influence many aspects of family life and that women are often expected to play a larger role in maintaining family wellbeing. Drawing on this work, we hypothesize that women were more likely to feel higher levels of anxiety than men due to COVID-19 and that this is associated with behavioral differences that have implications for slowing the virus’ spread: 1) media consumption; 2) information seeking; and 3) willingness to comply with mitigation behaviors. Specifically, we hypothesize that higher levels of anxiety are associated with increased media consumption and targeted information seeking aimed at preventing the spread of the virus. We hypothesize that this also corresponds with women being more knowledgeable than men about risk factors associated with contracting the virus. Moreover, the combination of greater anxiety and better knowledge, we hypothesize, translates into greater willingness among women to adopt mitigation behaviors. Our analysis of original survey data from 16 countries/territories across five world regions reveals strong support for most of our hypotheses. Communication strategies targeting women at the outset of a pandemic may therefore help to improve mitigation efforts.
Keywords: COVID-19, gender, anxiety, information-seeking, health behaviors
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