Faculty Publications

Title

Overestimating covid-19 mortality: Differential findings based on support for trump versus biden

Document Type

Article

Keywords

Cognitive dissonance, COVID-19, Heuristics, Infection fatality ratio, Trump support

Journal/Book/Conference Title

North American Journal of Psychology

Volume

23

Issue

2

First Page

273

Last Page

282

Abstract

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

Department of Psychology

Original Publication Date

6-1-2021

Repository

UNI ScholarWorks, Rod Library, University of Northern Iowa

Language

en

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