Sociopolitical consequences of COVID-19 in the Americas, Europe and Asia: A multilevel multicountry investigation of risk perceptions and support for antidemocratic practices

Pizarro, José Joaquim and Cakal, H. and Méndez, L. and Zumeta, L.N. and Gracia-Leiva, M. and Basabe, N. and Navarro-Carrillo, G. and Cazan, A.-M. and Keshavarzi, S. and López López, W. and Yahiiaiev, I. and Alzugaray-Ponce, C. and Villagrán, L. and Moyano-Díaz, E. and Petrovic, N. and Mathias, A. and Techio, E.M. and Wlodarzyck, A. and Alfaro-Beracochea, L. and Ibarra, M.L. and Michael, A. and Mhaskar, S. and Martínez-Zelaya, G. and Bilbao, M. and Delfino, G. and Carvalho, C.L. and Pinto, I.R. and Mohsin, F. and Espinosa, A. and Cueto, R.M. and Cavalli, Stefano and Da Costa, S. and Amutio, A. and Alfonso, I. and Páez, D. (2023) Sociopolitical consequences of COVID-19 in the Americas, Europe and Asia: A multilevel multicountry investigation of risk perceptions and support for antidemocratic practices. Political Psychology. pp. 1-27.

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Abstract

Although different social crises may eventually favor undemocratic and authoritarian forms of governance, at some point, such antidemocratic practices require the support of a significant part of the population to be im- plemented. The present research investigates how and whether the COVID-19 pandemic might have favoured greater support for antidemocratic governmental prac- tices, on the premise of regaining control and security. Using data from 17 countries (N = 4364) and national-level indicators (i.e., real number of contagions and deaths, and sociopolitical indicators), we test how the risk of contagion and death from COVID-19, along with personal orienta- tions (i.e., social dominance orientation [SDO], right-wing authoritarianism [RWA], and perceived anomie) motivate authoritarian and antidemocratic practices. Results from multilevel models indicate that risk perception and per- ceptions of political instability predict a wish for stronger leadership, agreement with martial law, and support for a controlling government especially when SDO and RWA are high, while more egalitarian and less conservative peo- ple agree less with these authoritarian measures in spite of the levels of risk perception. We discuss the implications for these findings for future research on similar but also dissimilar external events (natural disasters, war, or terror incidents) and the consequences for societies with higher authoritarian tendencies.

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