COVID-19’s psychological burden is associated with antisystemic attitudes and political violence

The Psychological Burden of the COVID-19 Pandemic Is Associated With Antisystemic Attitudes and Political Violence
Henrikas Bartusevi?ius (Peace Research Institute, Oslo), Alexander Bor (Aarhus University), Frederik Jørgensen (Aarhus University), Michael Bang Petersen (Aarhus University)
Psychological Science, August 2021 (DOI)

What are the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic for people’s political attitudes and behavior? We tested, specifically, whether the psychological burden of the COVID-19 pandemic relates to antisystemic attitudes (dissatisfaction with the fundamental social and political order), peaceful political activism, and political violence. Nationally representative two-wave panel data were collected via online surveys of adults in the United States, Denmark, Italy, and Hungary (ns = 6,131 and 4,568 in Waves 1 and 2, respectively). Overall, levels of antisystemic attitudes were low, and only a small share of interviewees reported behavioral intentions to participate in and actual participation in political violence. However, preregistered analyses indicated that perceived COVID-19 burden was associated with antisystemic attitudes and intentions to engage in political violence. In the United States, the burden of COVID-19 was also associated with self-reported engagement in violence surrounding the Black Lives Matter protests and counterprotests. We found less robust evidence that perceived COVID-19 burden was associated with peaceful activism.