Overestimating Covid-19 Mortality: Differential Findings Based On Support For Trump Versus Biden
Cognitive dissonance, COVID-19, Heuristics, Infection fatality ratio, Trump support
North American Journal of Psychology
The Infection Fatality Ratio (IFR) is the percentage of persons who become infected, and subsequently die from the infection. Risk estimates for COVID-19 have varied since the virus first began spreading among humans, nonetheless, actual mortality risk has been quantifiable. The purpose of this study is to quantify lay persons’ estimations of danger from COVID-19 infection, and to determine if political affiliations influence perceptions. Data collected from late summer through autumn of 2020 asked university students to estimate the number of persons who would die if 1000 persons (of two age groups) were found to be infected with COVID-19. Results show that persons have been overestimating mortality risk, especially earlier in the pandemic. Of 272 respondents queried on how many deaths would occur in a retirement community outbreak with exactly 1000 infections, more than half guessed 500 or more deaths, a substantial overestimate. Hierarchical regression was employed to test the hypothesis that time and risk estimates interact differently for Trump versus Biden supporters. Results demonstrated that time and risk estimates interact differently for Trump versus Biden supporters. Support for Trump was associated with a decline in risk estimation over time. Policy implications are briefly discussed, with the goal of avoiding pitfalls regarding public trust of scientific expertise.
Department of Psychology
Original Publication Date
UNI ScholarWorks, Rod Library, University of Northern Iowa
Desoto, M. Catherine, "Overestimating Covid-19 Mortality: Differential Findings Based On Support For Trump Versus Biden" (2021). Faculty Publications. 61.