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Public Service Announcements and Promoting Face Masks During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  10 September 2021

Steven Greene
Affiliation:
North Carolina State University, USA
Marc Hetherington
Affiliation:
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, USA
Rahsaan Maxwell
Affiliation:
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, USA
Timothy J. Ryan
Affiliation:
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, USA

Abstract

Wearing face masks to combat the spread of COVID-19 became a politicized and contested practice in the United States, largely due to misinformation and partisan cues from masking opponents. This article examines whether Public Service Announcements (PSAs) can encourage the use of face masks. We designed two PSAs: one describes the benefits of using face masks; the other uses a novel messenger (i.e., a retired US general) to advocate for them. We conducted two studies. First, we aired our PSAs on television and surveyed residents of the media market to determine if they saw the PSA and how they felt about wearing face masks. Second, we conducted a randomized experiment on a diverse national sample. Both studies suggest that exposure to our PSAs increased support for face masks and induced greater compliance with public health advice. These findings have implications for how governments might fight pandemics.

Type
Article
Copyright
© The Author(s), 2021. Published by Cambridge University Press on behalf of the American Political Science Association

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Supplementary material: File

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