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Title: Impact of COVID-19 forecast visualizations on pandemic risk perceptions

People worldwide use SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) visualizations to make life and death decisions about pandemic risks. Understanding how these visualizations influence risk perceptions to improve pandemic communication is crucial. To examine how COVID-19 visualizations influence risk perception, we conducted two experiments online in October and December of 2020 (N= 2549) where we presented participants with 34 visualization techniques (available at the time of publication on the CDC’s website) of the same COVID-19 mortality data. We found that visualizing data using a cumulative scale consistently led to participants believing that they and others were at more risk than before viewing the visualizations. In contrast, visualizing the same data with a weekly incident scale led to variable changes in risk perceptions. Further, uncertainty forecast visualizations also affected risk perceptions, with visualizations showing six or more models increasing risk estimates more than the others tested. Differences between COVID-19 visualizations of the same data produce different risk perceptions, fundamentally changing viewers’ interpretation of information.

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Nature Publishing Group
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Scientific Reports
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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  1. Abstract Background

    COVID‐19 was associated with significant financial hardship and increased binge eating (BE). However, it is largely unknown whether financial stressors contributed to BE during the pandemic. We used a longitudinal, cotwin control design that controls for genetic/environmental confounds by comparing twins in the same family to examine whether financial hardship during COVID‐19 was associated with BE.


    Female twins (N = 158;Mage = 22.13) from the Michigan State University Twin Registry rated financial stressors (e.g., inability to afford necessities) daily for 49 consecutive days during COVID‐19. We first examined whether financial hardship was associated with BE phenotypes across the full sample. We then examined whether cotwins who differed on financial hardship also differed in BE.


    Participants who experienced greater mean financial hardship across the study had significantly greater dimensional BE symptoms, and participants who experienced greater financial hardship on a given day reported significantly more emotional eating that day. These results were replicated in cotwin control analyses. Twins who experienced more financial hardship than their cotwin across the study reported greater dimensional BE symptoms than their cotwin, and participants who experienced more financial hardship than their cotwin on a given day reported greater emotional eating that day. Results were identical when restricting analyses to monozygotic twins, suggesting associations were not due to genetic confounds.


    Results suggest that BE‐related symptoms may be elevated in women who experienced financial hardship during COVID‐19 independent of potential genetic/environmental confounds. However, additional research in larger samples is needed.

    Public Significance

    Little is known regarding how financial difficulties during the COVID‐19 pandemic may have contributed to increased binge eating (BE). We found preliminary evidence that financial hardship during COVID‐19 may be associated with greater rates of BE‐related symptoms even when comparing twins from the same family. While additional research is needed, results suggest that people who experienced financial hardship during COVID‐19 may be at increased risk for BE.

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  2. Abstract

    During peak disease transmission in 2021, the compounding threat posed by the pandemic and hurricane season required coastal states to understand evacuation behaviors during a major hurricane to inform the planning process. While research relating to hurricane evacuation behavior and perceptions of risk has increased since the start of the pandemic, there is minimal understanding of how perceptions have changed now the COVID-19 vaccine is available. A total of 1075 individuals across seven U.S. coastal states participated in a study on evacuation intentions postvaccine availability. Findings revealed that most survey participants (50.9%) preferred to stay home if a major hurricane threatened their area, and only 3.9% would evacuate to a public shelter. Approximately half (56.2%) of individuals viewed the risk of being in a shelter as more dangerous than enduring hurricane hazards. When considering shelter use, nearly half of respondents (49.4%) stated they would evacuate to a shelter before the pandemic; now, only one-third (34.3%) would consider evacuating to a shelter during the pandemic. Statistically significant findings include the relationship between those who lived in evacuation zones A or B (25.5%) and the choice to shelter in place at home (40.5%) or evacuate to a hotel (36.9%). There was a statistically significant relationship between the level of education and choosing to evacuate to a hotel. Additionally, the influence of pet ownership on evacuation decision-making was found to be statistically significant. Officials can use the results of this study to strengthen community preparedness and planning strategies across diverse populations.

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  3. Abstract

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    The Study on U.S. Parents’ Divisions of Labor During COVID-19 (SPDLC) collects longitudinal survey data from partnered U.S. parents that can be used to assess changes in parents’ divisions of domestic labor, divisions of paid labor, and well-being throughout and after the COVID-19 pandemic. The goal of SPDLC is to understand both the short- and long-term impacts of the pandemic for the gendered division of labor, work-family issues, and broader patterns of gender inequality.

    Survey data for this study is collected using Prolifc (, an opt-in online platform designed to facilitate scientific research. The sample is comprised U.S. adults who were residing with a romantic partner and at least one biological child (at the time of entry into the study). In each survey, parents answer questions about both themselves and their partners. Wave 1 of SPDLC was conducted in April 2020, and parents who participated in Wave 1 were asked about their division of labor both prior to (i.e., early March 2020) and one month after the pandemic began. Wave 2 of SPDLC was collected in November 2020. Parents who participated in Wave 1 were invited to participate again in Wave 2, and a new cohort of parents was also recruited to participate in the Wave 2 survey. Wave 3 of SPDLC was collected in October 2021. Parents who participated in either of the first two waves were invited to participate again in Wave 3, and another new cohort of parents was also recruited to participate in the Wave 3 survey. This research design (follow-up survey of panelists and new cross-section of parents at each wave) will continue through 2024, culminating in six waves of data spanning the period from March 2020 through October 2024. An estimated total of approximately 6,500 parents will be surveyed at least once throughout the duration of the study.

    SPDLC data will be released to the public two years after data is collected; Waves 1 and 2 are currently publicly available. Wave 3 will be publicly available in October 2023, with subsequent waves becoming available yearly. Data will be available to download in both SPSS (.sav) and Stata (.dta) formats, and the following data files will be available: (1) a data file for each individual wave, which contains responses from all participants in that wave of data collection, (2) a longitudinal panel data file, which contains longitudinal follow-up data from all available waves, and (3) a repeated cross-section data file, which contains the repeated cross-section data (from new respondents at each wave) from all available waves. Codebooks for each survey wave and a detailed user guide describing the data are also available. Response Rates: Of the 1,157 parents who participated in Wave 1, 828 (72%) also participated in the Wave 2 study. Presence of Common Scales: The following established scales are included in the survey:
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    • Gender Attitudes, taken from the National Survey of Families and Households (Sweet & Bumpass, 1996)
    • Depressive Symptoms (CES-D-10)
    • Stress, measured using Cohen's Perceived Stress Scale (Cohen, Kamarck, & Mermelstein, 1983)
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    In the second stage, a new sample of parents was recruited. New parents had to meet the same sampling criteria as in W1 (be at least 18 years old, reside in the United States, reside with a romantic partner, and be a parent living with at least one biological child). Also similar to the W1 procedures, we oversampled men, Black individuals, individuals who did not complete college, and individuals who identified as politically conservative to increase sample diversity. A total of 1,207 parents participated in the W2 survey. Data quality checks led to the removal of 5.7% of the respondents, resulting in a final sample size of new respondents at Wave 2 of 1,138 parents.

    In both stages, participants were informed that the survey would take approximately 20 minutes to complete. All panelists were provided monetary compensation in line with Prolific’s compensation guidelines, which require that all participants earn above minimum wage for their time participating in studies.
    To be included in SPDLC, respondents had to meet the following sampling criteria at the time they enter the study: (a) be at least 18 years old, (b) reside in the United States, (c) reside with a romantic partner (i.e., be married or cohabiting), and (d) be a parent living with at least one biological child. Follow-up respondents must be at least 18 years old and reside in the United States, but may experience changes in relationship and resident parent statuses. Smallest Geographic Unit: U.S. State

    This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. To view a copy of this license, visit In accordance with this license, all users of these data must give appropriate credit to the authors in any papers, presentations, books, or other works that use the data. A suggested citation to provide attribution for these data is included below:            

    Carlson, Daniel L. and Richard J. Petts. 2022. Study on U.S. Parents’ Divisions of Labor During COVID-19 User Guide: Waves 1-2.  

    To help provide estimates that are more representative of U.S. partnered parents, the SPDLC includes sampling weights. Weights can be included in statistical analyses to make estimates from the SPDLC sample representative of U.S. parents who reside with a romantic partner (married or cohabiting) and a child aged 18 or younger based on age, race/ethnicity, and gender. National estimates for the age, racial/ethnic, and gender profile of U.S. partnered parents were obtained using data from the 2020 Current Population Survey (CPS). Weights were calculated using an iterative raking method, such that the full sample in each data file matches the nationally representative CPS data in regard to the gender, age, and racial/ethnic distributions within the data. This variable is labeled CPSweightW2 in the Wave 2 dataset, and CPSweightLW2 in the longitudinal dataset (which includes Waves 1 and 2). There is not a weight variable included in the W1-W2 repeated cross-section data file.
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  5. Abstract Background

    Understanding factors that influence information seeking, assessment of risk and mitigation behaviors is critical during a public health crises. This longitudinal study examined the influence of self-reported mental health during the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic on information seeking, risk perception and perceived mask wearing ability. Mental health screener items included fear, anger, and hopelessness in addition to avoidance, diminished functional ability and global distress. Theoretical models inform hypotheses linking mental health items and outcomes.


    The research employed a longitudinal 6-state 3-wave online panel survey, with an initial sample of 3,059 participants (2,232 included in longitudinal analyses). Participants roughly represented the states’ age, race, ethnicity, and income demographics.


    Women, those who identified as Hispanic/Latinx, Black Americans and lower income participants reported higher overall rates of distress than others. Information seeking was more common among older persons, Democrats, retirees, those with higher education, and those who knew people who had died of COVID-19. Controlling for such demographic variables, in multivariable longitudinal models that included baseline mental health measures, distress and fear were associated with increased information seeking. Distress and fear were also associated with increased risk perception, and feelings of hopelessness were associated with lower reported mask-wearing ability.


    Results advance understanding of the role mental health can play in information seeking, risk perception and mask wearing with implications for clinicians, public health practitioners and policy makers.

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