Tag: Persuasion

Media Influence on Behavior During COVID-19: Insights from a Recent Study

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In their paper, recently accepted by Health Economics, Marcel Garz from Jönköping University and Maiting Zhuang from the Stockholm Institute of Transition Economics (SITE) shed light on the impact of media coverage on individual behavior during the Covid-19 pandemic in Sweden.

Media Coverage and Pandemic Behaviour: Evidence from Sweden

This paper explores the intricate relationship between media depictions of COVID-19 and shifts in individuals’ conduct, focusing on Sweden, a standout nation for not imposing lockdowns or curfews during the pandemic. Instead, Sweden relied on voluntary compliance with public health recommendations, making it a crucial case study.

Researchers Marcel Garz and Maiting Zhuang analyzed Swedish newspaper articles about Covid-19 in 2020, totalling 200,000 articles. The study utilized mobility data from Google and employed a robust methodology, including municipality-day panel models and instrumental variable strategies, to ensure accurate results.

The research contributes to the empirical literature by identifying the causal impact of media coverage on individual behavior during a public health crisis.

Key Findings from the Research

The results unveil a significant correlation between media coverage and alterations in behavior patterns. Specifically, mentions of COVID-19 in the media correlated with reduced visits to workplaces and retail and recreation areas, while simultaneously extending the duration of stays in residential locations. Employing two distinct identification strategies, the researchers established a causal link between media coverage and behavioral changes.

Moreover, the study underscores that the impact of media coverage is most pronounced when news stories are locally relevant, visible, and based on facts. Articles referencing crisis managers and providing explicit public health advice were identified as having significant effects on behavior.

These findings carry broad implications for public communication strategies, emphasizing the pivotal role of local media in shaping individual responses to public health crises.

Full Research Paper Access

For a comprehensive understanding of the research background, methodology, data and variables, as well as the empirical strategy and conclusions, kindly refer to the complete paper on Health Economics.