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Partisanship Unmasked? The Role of Politics and Social Norms in COVID-19 Mask-Wearing Behavior

Carey, John, Nyhan, Brendan, Phillips, Joseph B., Reifler, Jason (2022) Partisanship Unmasked? The Role of Politics and Social Norms in COVID-19 Mask-Wearing Behavior. Journal of Experimental Political Science, . ISSN 2052-2630. E-ISSN 2052-2649. (doi:10.1017/XPS.2022.20) (KAR id:96875)

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Public health officials have faced resistance in their efforts to promote mask-wearing to counter the spread of COVID-19. One approach to promoting behavior change is to alert people to the fact that a behavior is common (a descriptive norm). However, partisan differences in pandemic mitigation behavior mean that Americans may be especially (in)sensitive to information about behavioral norms depending on the party affiliation of the group in question. In July–August 2020, we tested the effects of providing information to respondents about how many Americans, co-partisans, or out-partisans report wearing masks regularly on both mask-wearing intentions and on the perceived effectiveness of masks. Learning that a majority of Americans report wearing masks regularly increases mask-wearing intentions and perceived effectiveness, though the effects of this information are not distinguishable from other treatments.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1017/XPS.2022.20
Additional information: For the purpose of open access, the author has applied a CC BY public copyright licence to any Author Accepted Manuscript version arising from this submission.
Uncontrolled keywords: COVID-19, descriptive norms, partisanship, masks, survey experiments, affective polarization
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Human and Social Sciences > School of Psychology
Funders: Economic and Social Research Council (
National Science Foundation (
Depositing User: Joe Phillips
Date Deposited: 12 Sep 2022 09:34 UTC
Last Modified: 25 Jul 2023 16:05 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
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