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Becoming an expert gives you the power to make a positive and lasting effect on the lives of people on a global scale.

Becoming an expert gives you the power to make a positive and lasting effect on the lives of people on a global scale Through the Covid-19 pandemic people all over the world have been looking to our leaders to make the right decisions for our health, safety and wellbeing. In turn, leaders and decision-makers have been looking to experts in the fields of medicine and science to help inform policies to slow the spread of Covid-19 and keep as many people as possible safe from the deadly virus. 

However, policies such as mask-wearing, community lockdowns and vaccine mandates have been increasingly polarised by political parties, with politicians, world leaders and the general public, supporting or opposing public health and safety measures in line with the opinions of their political party, often in contradiction to the scientifically-backed advice of experts.  

In matters of Public Health, who does the public really trust? 

A research team led by the University of Colorado Boulder, supported by colleagues from the US, Sweden, Israel, Austria, Italy, Singapore and the UK, studied participants’ political views, alongside their opinions on Covid-19 policies.  

The 13,000 participants, from 7 countries worldwide, were asked their political views, then to share their support for two Covid-19 policies, one for public health measures, and the other supporting economic recovery.

Dr Gabriela Jiga-Boy from Swansea University’s School of Psychology, who was part of the team, explains:

“We take cues from our leaders (or partisan elites) because that’s what we’re supposed to do. But partisan elites often create barriers to combatting shared threats such as COVID. They ‘polarise’ public opinion with their words, actions or merely their presence.”

The research concluded that even though participants were more likely to support policies that were linked to their political party, all participants, regardless of their political views, supported policies proposed by experts and bipartisan coalitions. 

Dr Jiga-Boy concluded:

“Our results show the importance of maintaining experts as nonpartisan, in order to preserve public trust in them. A solution is to take the politicians out of the communication and put the experts in the foreground to help avoid issues getting polarised.”

Find out more about these, and many more findings, on our research pages.

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