Perceptions of blame on social media during the Coronavirus pandemic

Choli, M. and Kuss, D. ORCID: 0000-0001-8917-782X, 2021. Perceptions of blame on social media during the Coronavirus pandemic. Computers in Human Behavior, 124: 106895. ISSN 0747-5632

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The outbreak of the coronavirus (COVID-19) disease is overwhelming resources, economies and countries around the world. Millions of people have been infected and hundreds of thousands have succumbed to the virus. Research regarding the coronavirus pandemic is published every day. However, there is limited discourse regarding societal perception. Thus, this paper examines blame attribution concerning the origin and propagation of the coronavirus crisis according to public perception. Specifically, data were extracted from the social media platform Twitter concerning the coronavirus during the early stages of the outbreak and further investigated using thematic analysis. The findings revealed the public predominantly blames national governments for the coronavirus pandemic. In addition, the results documented the explosion of conspiracy theories among social media users regarding the virus’ origin. In the early stages of the pandemic, the blame tendency was most frequent to conspiracy theories and restriction of information from the government, whilst in the later months, responsibility had shifted to political leaders and the media. The findings indicate an emerging government mistrust that may result in disregard of preventive health behaviours and the amplification of conspiracy theories, and an evolving dynamic of blame. This study argues for a transparent, continuing dialogue between governments and the public to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

Item Type: Journal article
Publication Title: Computers in Human Behavior
Creators: Choli, M. and Kuss, D.
Publisher: Elsevier
Date: November 2021
Volume: 124
ISSN: 0747-5632
Divisions: Schools > School of Social Sciences
Record created by: Linda Sullivan
Date Added: 11 May 2021 09:12
Last Modified: 04 Jun 2022 03:00

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