The COVID-19 pandemic has become a partisan issue rather than an independent public health issue in the US. This study examined the behavioural consequences of motivated reasoning and framing by investigating the impacts of COVID-19 news exposure and news frames, as apparent through a Latent Dirichlet topic modelling analysis of local news coverage, on state-level preventive behaviours as understood through a nationally representative survey. Findings suggested that the media effects on various preventive behaviours differed. The overall exposure rate to all COVID-19 news articles increased mask-wearing but did not significantly impact other preventive behaviours. Four news frames significantly increased avoiding contact or avoiding public or crowded places. However, news articles discussing anxiety and stay at home order triggered resistance and countereffects and led to risky behaviours. ‘Solid Republican’ state residents were less likely to avoid contact, avoid public or crowded places, and wear masks. However, partisan leanings did not interfere with the impact of differing local COVID-19 news frames on reported preventive behaviours. Plus, statements regarding pre-existing trust in Trump did not correlate with reported preventive behaviour. Attention to effect sizes revealed that news exposure and news frames could have a bigger impact on health behaviours than motivated reasoning.
- Latent Dirichlet analysis
- motivated reasoning
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health