Age-based messaging strategies for communication about COVID-19

Main Article Content

Stephen M. Utych
Luke Fowler

Keywords

COVID-19, Messaging, Experimental methods, Age

Abstract

Responding to the COVID-19 crisis across the world has required a massive and sudden shift in human behaviors, with an end goal of slowing the spread of the disease. Importantly, this type of behavioral change requires messaging from governmental agencies and officials. However, we are uncertain about what types of messages are most influential at inducing behavioral change. In this study, we find that messages highlighting the risk to older adults have little additive power in influencing attitudes and behaviors beyond the effect of a broad informational message. However, messages highlighting risks to younger adults, in addition to risks to older adults, make individuals perceive COVID-19 as a more serious threat, though this effect seems to be limited to areas where infection rates are high.