COVID-19 - Coronavirus disease 2019

REpresentations, PErceptions and Attitudes to the COVID-19 virus – REPEAT

Submission summary

The general proposal aims at investigating the representations, attitudes and reactions of public opinion in a context of the COVID-19 epidemic through a variety of countries differently exposed to the coronavirus. Contrary to conventional research projects, REPEAT has been conceived to be implemented in a short period and to offer deliverables that may be useful for academics but also for public decision-makers.

Objectives identified by REPEAT are clear and feasible:
1- Measuring during the COVID-19 crisis the perceptions and (social) representations of different groups of people, based on representative samples.
2- Explaining the reasons why people are more likely to accept public recommendation under certain circumstances (to be experimented through on-line survey scenarios)
3- Addressing causal mechanisms by which people do perceive differently the saliency of the virus dissemination and do react accordingly to public authorities’ discourses or other public opinion leaders in their community.

Started in March 16 and 17, the CEVIPOF (Sciences Po) in association with leading scholars has deployed in the field a first online survey to cover such dimensions. REPEAT must help to cover costs to replicate the same design in seven countries : France, Germany, Austria, USA, Canada, New-Zealand and the United Kingdom.
All in all, the benefits derived from such surveys are twofold: (1) rolling observations during the time of the sanitary crisis allowing the dynamics of public opinion to be captured and (2) comparison between individuals going through real (or manipulated) public policy experiments (such as confinement, use of cell phones, restriction of liberties, screening policies, etc.). Finally, such a design will also permit the measurement of attitudes towards science in general and expertise in particular, attitudes among people more anchored in a cultural divide (open vs. closed society), perceptions of trust in keys actors (executive, doctors, representatives, etc.) or organizations (heath agencies, hospitals, media, NGOs).

This project will greatly help the scholarly community to understand the mechanisms and contextual conditions by which people react differently in case of infectious disease. But it will also provide during the next days a unique public opinion barometer on individuals’ well-being, fatigue, and attitudes toward public health recommendations that will allow for the understanding of a) how publics cope psychologically with the wave of unprecedented social distancing measures and b) the extent to which the public health measures risk being compromised by a lack of cooperation by citizens.

Concretely, REPEAT must be conceived as a public (and open-access) tool to assist public decision makers in charge of monitoring and conceiving urgent public policies in health domain. Sensitivity analyses to public decisions will be achieved to properly identify the causal effects of compliance across countries and alert on evolving perceptions of COVID-19 on different social groups.

Finally, this project will help public authorities to: 1) identify the issues on which there is a high degree of consensus and those which are more controversial; 2) understand some of the factors which structure public opinion and social representations and which might hamper the implementation of health actions; 3) understand the mechanisms and contextual conditions by which people react differently in case of infectious disease.; 4) identify specific groups in the population toward which information efforts have to be intensified (for instance, groups which are more vulnerable to fake news).

Project coordination

Martial Foucault (CEVIPOF - Centre de recherches politiques)

The author of this summary is the project coordinator, who is responsible for the content of this summary. The ANR declines any responsibility as for its contents.


CEVIPOF CEVIPOF - Centre de recherches politiques

Help of the ANR 146,640 euros
Beginning and duration of the scientific project: April 2020 - 12 Months

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