The Messenger and the Message: Explaining Compliance Among the Mass Public During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Grant number: COV19\201414

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Key facts

  • Disease

  • Known Financial Commitments (USD)

  • Funder

    British Academy
  • Principle Investigator

  • Research Location

    United Kingdom, Europe
  • Lead Research Institution

    London School of Economics and Political Science, Department of Government
  • Research Category

    Research to inform ethical issues

  • Research Subcategory

    Research to inform ethical issues related to Public Health Measures

  • Special Interest Tags


  • Study Subject


  • Clinical Trial Details


  • Broad Policy Alignment


  • Age Group


  • Vulnerable Population


  • Occupations of Interest



The project aims to explain the British public's compliance with and approval of government policies aimed at reducing and managing infections from the COVID-19 virus. Building on insights from behavioural and political sciences, this project examines the efficacy of messages from politicians and experts aimed at engendering compliance among the mass public. While scientists have collected survey and behavioural data on compliance, we know less about the factors that activate and sustain compliant behaviours and the role that public authorities play in shaping them. Employing nationally representative survey-experiments, we test the effect of elite cues on compliance and approval via appeals to individual and collective health risks. Moreover, we examine whether some individuals are more likely to respond to such messages than others. The project will contribute to our understanding of the public's willingness to make sustained sacrifices and the role of political and public health messages in shaping it.