The COVID-19 outbreak and lockdown present governments with enormous challenges in managing collective behaviour. Containing the virus requires high levels of physical distancing. Preventing economic collapse requires persuading businesses not to fire workers and consumers to keep spending.
Governments require substantial collective trust; both in the science around the coronavirus and in government policy itself. Tobias Ellwood MP, the chair of the Commons Defence Select Committee recently noted ‘you want people rallying behind government... not acting against it.’ However, previous work has shown that different groups often have sharply different baselines of trust in science, government, and expert advice.
Ben Ansell, Professor of Comparative Democratic Institutions, and Jane Gingrich, Professor of Comparative Political Economy, are running a two-wave survey - before and after the loosening of the lockdown - of 1600 British respondents, asking a series of questions about both trust and physical distancing behaviours.
They aim to discover what factors affect trust in the government's coronavirus strategy; information that will be of immediate importance to policymakers in both their internal deliberation about distancing measures and their outward facing communication with the public.