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Photo: “Budapest: Hungarian Parliament“, by Jorge Franganillo licensed under CC BY 2.0. Hue modified from the original

Anghel, Veronica, and Julia Schulte-Cloos. “COVID-19 related anxieties do not decrease support for liberal democracy.” American Political Science Association, 2021.


Studies carried out at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic confirmed that under the impression of fear individuals were more willing to tolerate violations of liberal-democratic norms and supported discriminatory policies to preserve public safety. But what are the potential consequences of the pandemic on citizens’ attitudes beyond its peak? We conducted an original experiment in which we manipulate individuals’ cognitive accessibility of their fears related to COVID-19 one and a half years after the onset of the pandemic. We fielded the experiment in Hungary and Romania–two cases most likely to see such attitudes amplify under the condition of fear. Our intervention was successful in elevating respondents’ levels of worry, anxiety, and fear when thinking about infectious diseases like COVID-19. However, these emotions did not affect individuals’ levels of rightwing authoritarianism, nationalism, or outgroup hostility, or their preferences for specific discriminatory policies aimed to fight a potential resurgence of COVID-19.

The Illiberalism Studies Program studies the different faces of illiberal politics and thought in today’s world, taking into account the diversity of their cultural context, their intellectual genealogy, the sociology of their popular support, and their implications on the international scene.