Renström EA, Bäck H
J Appl Soc Psychol 51 (8) 861-877 [2021-08-00; online 2021-06-17]
The Covid-19 pandemic has significantly changed the lives of most people. It has been described as the most severe global health disaster of modern times by the United Nations. No doubt such a major crisis influences what citizens think of different policies, and how they become politically active, not to mention, the forceful emotional experiences that the Covid-19 pandemic brings. This study evaluates how emotions affect support for policies related to restricting the spread of the virus and economic assistance, and how emotions affect intentions to engage politically. In an experiment (N = 1,072), we manipulated emotional reactions to threat by highlighting different aspects of the pandemic. Our findings show that different experimental treatments elicit different emotions, and that fear, anxiety, and anger are all related to policy support and political action intentions, but in different ways. Fear and anger predict support for restrictive policies to limit the spread of the virus, while anxiety predicts support for economic policies. Anger and anxiety, but not fear, increase intentions to engage politically. Hence, we find support for a mechanism where different aspects of the Covid-19 crisis evoke different emotional reactions, which in turn affects policy support and political actions differently.