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Moral Norms during COVID-19

COVID-19 Research Area(s): Culture, Social Impacts

As of this writing, over 1.7 million people in the US have been infected by Covid-19 and over 100,000 have died. Currently, most Americans support government efforts to control the pandemic through mechanisms such as wearing masks in public and social distancing initiatives. But restlessness over distancing directives is increasing and perceptions of the seriousness of the virus vary. Along with that lack of consensus, there is debate about how to best strengthen the economy. As policy makers are grappling with how to safely reduce restrictions, and balance public health and the economy, so too are average Americans struggling with what is right and what is wrong - producing new norms governing behavior and reactions to policy. Thus, the situation provides an opportunity to develop theoretical understanding of norm emergence. Understanding the development of these norms, as well as differential adherence and opposition, is crucial for implementing effective policy. Policy makers will benefit from guidance on how to harness the power of norms to achieve collective ends. Our long-term goal is to understand how norms emerge, change, and become markers of group coalitions. The goal of the proposed research is to understand distancing norms and norm conflict during the Covid-19 pandemic. These transcripts will be coded using qualitative coding software, and the data will be used to develop manuscripts for publication in academic journals.