Relevance of Communication during Corona Crises (RCCC)

Persons in charge: Sophia Schaller, Jens Wolling, Christina Schumann, Dorothee Arlt, Christoph, Kuhlmann, Priscila Berger

Project period: 2020-2022

The COVID-19 pandemic triggered several crises. In our research, we focus on four of them (health, economic, social and political) that challenged societies around the world. Communication is central to the management of such crises. Therefore, we examine how (media) experiences of citizens in Germany developed with regard to health, economic, social and political aspects of the multiple coronavirus crisis. For this purpose, an eight-wave population-representative panel survey was conducted in the years 2020-2022.

Since the citizens experienced the crises both directly (e.g., due to personal illness) and indirectly (e.g., through information conveyed by the media about infection rates at home and abroad), it can be assumed that the perception of the crises is influenced by an interplay of direct and indirect (media-mediated) experiences. Through these sources of experience from close and distant worlds, people receive coherent or fragmented or possibly contradictory information that influences their perceptions of the crises accordingly. We analyze how citizens perceive and evaluate this information and what consequences arise from it. We argue that understanding these communication processes will help our societies to better manage future crises.

Crises are threats, but at the same time they are also turning points that offer opportunities for new strategic options for action. With regard to the coronavirus crisis, the realignment of political, social, economic and ecological parameters of societies (at least in Germany) has been discussed and therefore people's attitudes towards these possible futures should be considered.

Overall, the aim of our project is to investigate ...

- how the interplay of direct and mediated experiences (in conversations and via traditional news media as well as social media) leads to people's perceptions of the various crises in their near and distant world

- what consequences these experiences and perceptions have for individuals and society (e.g., support for the government's coronavirus policy, belief in conspiracy theories, mental health)

- what social, economic, political and ecological transformations people are demanding and striving for in the future

Study design:

The empirical basis for answering the questions is data from a quantitative panel survey with eight waves, conducted by the online access panel of bilendi formerly respondi (certified according to Global ISO 20252:2019). The quota-based survey is representative of the population of German-speaking online users over the age of 18 years in terms of age, gender and education.

The following waves were realized with the following numbers of cases and the following sample exhaustion:

Wave 1: April 16-20, 2020, n=1458 (100% - base sample 2020)

Wave 2: May 19-25, 2020, n=1233 (85% of the 2020 base sample)

Wave 3: July 21-28, 2020, n=1014 (70% of the 2020 baseline sample)

Wave 4: November 4-10, 2020, n=822 (56% of the 2020 baseline sample)

Wave 5: April 1-13, 2021, n=709 (49% of the 2020 baseline sample)

Wave 6: September 15-23, 2021, n=575 (39% of the 2020 baseline sample)

Wave 7: December 9-20, 2021, n=513 (35% of the 2020 baseline sample)

Wave 8: April 1-8, 2022, n=394 (27% of the 2020 baseline sample)

The aim of a panel study is to interview the people originally contacted in later survey waves. However, the number of people reached at later points in time often decreases from wave to wave (so-called panel mortality). For this reason, a new sample of 1320 people was added to the original sample in April 2021, so that a total of 2029 people were interviewed in April 2021.

Wave 5: April 1-13, 2021, n=2029 (100% - base sample 2021)

Wave 6: September 15-23, 2021, n=1344 (66% of the baseline sample 2021)

Wave 7: December 9-20, 2021, n=1162 (57% of the baseline sample 2021)

Wave 8: April 1-8, 2022, n=856 (42% of the baseline sample 2021)

In April 2022, a new sample of 961 people was added. This was done for the same reason as in 2021. A total of 1817 people were interviewed in April 2022.

Wave 8: April 1-8, 2022, n=1817 (100% - base sample 2022)

Data availability:

The complete data set and the required documentation will be published on upon completion of the project and will be available for secondary analyses.