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Use of media to cope with the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic

WorkgroupEveryday Media
FundingIWM budget resources
Project description

The SARS-CoV-2 pandemic has drastically changed the lives of many people, causing uncertainty, stress and anxiety. This project investigates how people use social media, podcasts, news and entertainment to cope with these feelings. Additionally, we focus on how media use is related to successful coping and how media use is related to knowledge and preventive behavior.

In a situation in which contact restrictions and home office are part of everyday life, media take up an even greater role in people's everyday lives. Most people have to adapt to a new situation and are at least confronted with a change in their routines, but often also with fears for their own health or that of relatives, or with financial insecurity and existential fears. In this situation, it is likely that different media services will be increasingly used to cope with the uncertainty and stress: Some people may seek more news about the situation or start listening to podcasts by virologists; others may try to distract themselves by an increased use of entertainment or seek social support on social media.

In a first subproject, a two-wave survey will be conducted to ask people whether and how much participants listen to podcasts by well-known virologists or how much they follow virologists through other channels. It is assumed that some of the listeners and/or followers develop a parasocial relationship with a virologist and that this helps them to cope with the new and threatening situation. In a second sub-project, also using a two-way survey, people will be asked about how they use media to cope with stress. The aim here is to examine what kind of media use is associated with positive effects on coping and what role personality factors such as regulatory flexibility play.

  • Robin Nabi, University of California in Santa Barbara (USA)

  • Lara Wolfers, University of Amsterdam (NL)


Utz, S., Gaiser, F., & Wolfers, L. N. (2022). Guidance in the chaos: Effects of science communication by virologists during the COVID-19 crisis in Germany and the role of parasocial phenomena. Public Understanding of Science, 31(6), 799-817. [Data] Open Access


Prof. Dr. Sonja Utz Prof. Dr. Sonja Utz
Tel.: +49 7071 979-308