The Effect of Risk Framing on Support for Restrictive Government Policy Regarding the COVID-19 Outbreak
This confirmatory research investigates the influence of risk framing of COVID-19 on support for restrictive government policy based on two web survey experiments in Russia. Using 2x2 factorial design, we estimated two main effects–factors of risk severity (low vs. high) and object at risk (individual losses vs. losses to others). First, focusing on higher risks had a positive effect on support for the government’s restrictive policy. Second, focusing on the losses for others did not produce stronger support for the restrictive policy compared to focusing on personal losses. However, we found a positive moderation effect of such prosocial values as universalism and benevolence. We found that those with prosocial values had a stronger positive effect in the “losses for others” condition and were more willing to support government restrictive policy when others were included. The effects found in our experimental study reveal both positive and negative aspects in risk communication during the pandemic, which may have a great and long-term impact on trust, attitudes, and behavior.