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 study examines the development of political communication of citizens in Germany regarding the health, economic, social and political aspects of the multiple corona crisis. It analyzes how people inform themselves about the crises, how they act (communicatively) in the crises and which crisis-related ideas, emotions and attitudes emerged. To this end, a seven-wave population-representative panel survey was conducted in 2020/21. The study will continue in 2022.

The Corona epidemic triggered multiple crises. In our research, we address four of them (health, economic, social, and political) that challenge societies around the world. Communication is central to addressing these crises. Therefore, we study how people inform themselves during crises, how citizens communicate, and how they relate to the world during the pandemic.

The multiple Corona crisis has implications for how people relate to their environment on all levels, from their perceptions, emotions, and attitudes to their (communicative) actions. Since citizens may experience the crises both directly (e.g., through illnesses in personal acquaintances) and indirectly (e.g., through media-mediated information about infection rates at home and abroad), it can be assumed that people's perceptions of the crises are shaped 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, which may affect their conceptions of the crises accordingly. We analyze how citizens perceive and evaluate this information, and what inferences and consequences they draw 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 turning points that offer opportunities for new strategic options for action. With regard to the Corona crises, the realignment of political, social, economic and ecological parameters of societies (at least in Germany) is discussed and therefore people's attitudes towards these possible futures shall be considered.

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

- how the interplay of direct and mediated experiences (through conversations and via traditional news media as well as social media) gives rise to people's conceptions of the multiple crises in their local and distant worlds.

- How these conceptions of the crises are related to the conclusions and consequences people draw from them (e.g., support for government Corona policies, belief in conspiracy theories).

- What social, economic, political, and environmental realignments people demand and seek for the future.


Study Design:

The empirical basis for answering the questions is data from a quantitative panel survey with currently eight waves, implemented by the online access panel of respondi AG (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 with regard to the characteristics 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% - 2020 baseline)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Data Availability:

The full data set and required documentation will be posted on upon completion of the project and will be available for secondary analysis.