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Information Seeking During Covid-19. A Multi-Method Approach to Understanding Beliefs, Knowledge, and Preventative Behavioral Intentions

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The Quello Center Information Seeking Project examines how information seeking from online and offline sources is associated with knowledge of dynamically evolving events. We use the COVID-19 pandemic as a case in point for a class of phenomena for which incomplete (scientific) information about the phenomenon interacts with misinformation and disinformation. How is reliance on different information sources associated with beliefs about the pandemic, knowledge about it, and behavioral intentions to engage in precautionary measures?

We applied multiple theoretical and empirical models to data from nationally representative surveys in the United States (N=2,280) and the United Kingdom (N=2,000) conducted late in 2020. Our team will present results documenting the implications of digital inequalities for public health challenges, the role of media through a media effects lens, and preliminary results of a model of information behavior under conditions of dynamic uncertainty. Our multi-method, multi-model approach shows how complementary insights can be used to better understand complex phenomena and to design effective policy responses.

Members of the research group: Anna Argyris (MSU), Johannes M. Bauer (Quello Center, MSU), Grant Blank (Oxford Internet Institute and University of Oxford), Shelia R. Cotten (Clemson University) Megan Knittel (MSU), Aziz Muqaddam (University of San Diego), Bianca C. Reisdorf (University of North Carolina, Charlotte), Craig T. Robertson (Reuters Institute, Oxford), Ruth Shillair (MSU).