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ESRA 2023 Preliminary Glance Program

All time references are in CEST

New Social Norms in Times of Covid-19: Challenges for Survey Research 1

Session Organisers Dr Ivar Krumpal (University of Leipzig)
Professor Peter Kriwy (Chemnitz University of Technology)
TimeTuesday 18 July, 11:00 - 12:30
Room U6-10

In early 2020, the Covid-19 pandemic occurred and continues in a degraded form. It is clear that Covid-19 and how we deal with it is changing society. New social norms and collective good problems have emerged. For example, wearing face masks, getting vaccinated, self-reporting infections using Corona apps or adhering to lockdown norms can be seen as contributions to the collective good “public health”. Compliance with these norms are a collective good problem. Monitoring collective action as well as individual behavior and attitudes has confronted the survey discipline with new challenges.

This session aims at presenting and discussing current survey research on social norms and values influencing our behavior and attitudes in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic. We want to discuss best practices, new challenges and innovative designs focusing on methodological as well as substantive problems. We invite submissions that deal with these problems and/or present potential solutions. In particular, we are interested in studies that (1) deal with substantive problems and applications of survey research, such as attitudes towards vaccination, norm compliance, deviant behavior, ethical orientations in regards to triage or conspiracy beliefs; (2) present current empirical research focusing on public opinion in regards to the emergence of new social norms, values and the production of collective goods in times of Covid-19; (3) deal with methodological problems such as nonresponse, social desirability bias or sampling issues presenting innovative designs and solutions addressing these problems; (4) present experimental survey research (e.g. factorial surveys, choice experiments, field experiments) and statistical procedures to analyze such data (e.g. conjoint analysis); (5) integrate innovative experimental designs in well-established, large-scale population surveys of the general population; (6) discuss best practices in surveying social norms.

Keywords: Social norms; social desirability bias; nonresponse bias; factorial surveys; choice experiments

What have we learnt from COVID? Asking retrospective questions to study attitudinal change during the pandemic

Dr Diego Fossati (City University of Hong Kong) - Presenting Author

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought about important transformations in many spheres of human activity. As most countries are lifting stringent social distancing rules and travel restrictions, the most disruptive phase of the pandemic appears to have ended. What is the legacy of this period of deep transformation in terms of how ordinary people think about normative issues such as individual freedom, the role of government, and social solidarity? Available longitudinal data may allow for accurate identification of aggregate-level attitudinal change over time but offer more limited insight about the microlevel mechanisms associated with value change, or on how individual-level and social/institutional factors interact in shaping value change.
This paper explores the usefulness of asking retrospective questions to study normative change related to the COVID-19 pandemic with the analysis of an original survey implemented on European and non-European samples. It starts by outlining a theoretical framework and possible causal mechanisms through which momentous external shocks such as pandemics may alter social norms. It then reviews the methodological literature on the subject, discussing the well-known limitations of retrospective survey research while illustrating the potential of this approach with a wide range of examples that have used retrospective survey questions to study implications of the COVID-19 pandemic. The research design is then presented, with a discussion of how best practices in the field could be employed to formulate retrospective survey questions in the context of the pandemic. The empirical analysis provides a comprehensive view of the structure and extent of social norm change during the pandemic, as well as an analysis of the main factors associated with heterogeneity in attitudinal change.

The use of retrospective surveys to evaluate subjective changes in urban quality of life

Mrs Andriele Panosso (UFRGS) - Presenting Author
Mrs Miron Luciana (UFRGS)

The urban quality of life can be assessed through objective and subjective indicators, in a wide range of topics, such as economy, education, governance, urban mobility, health, housing, culture and recreation, safety, and environmental comfort. Objective indicators are measures obtained through public statistics, such as the national census, or other information produced by research and social monitoring institutions. On the other hand, subjective indicators are obtained through surveys with the population to be studied about their satisfaction with their living conditions. In the context of the pandemic crisis, the change in the urban quality of life of city dwellers became explicit, mainly due to social isolation, which demanded significant changes in the population's routine, from an objective point of view. In addition to objective changes in the urban quality of life, this work questions the changes in the population's urban quality of life from a subjective perspective, analyzed through retrospective surveys about the living conditions of the population and how these conditions have changed throughout the Covid-19 pandemic. In this way, the main goal of this research is to discuss the use of retrospective surveys to assess the urban quality of life during the Covid-19 pandemic. The research will be conducted through a literature review and the results will help establish a reference for how the survey should be conducted and how to elaborate subjective indicators. After that, a pilot survey will be carried out to evaluate the data collection instrument and the feasibility of the indicators.

Measuring Compliance with Covid-19 Preventive Interventions: Text vs. Image Vignettes in a Factorial Survey on Wearing Face Masks

Professor Knut Petzold (Zittau/Goerlitz University of Applied Sciences) - Presenting Author

Wearing face masks is important in combating Covid-19 but raises the question of what motivates individuals to comply with such interventions. Existing studies using general survey and register data often neglect that norm compliance is conditional to situations. We conduct a factorial survey experiment to analyse the detailed salience conditions of the mask wearing norm. Moreover, norm compliance may rely on visible situational cues that activate normative issues. Recent studies have suggested to use visual instead of written treatments for such situations. The reason is that, according to the Dual Coding Theory, written information is processed sequentially possibly leading to different interpretation frames, while visual information is processed simultaneously what may lead to rather similar interpretation frames. This should result in less measurement error and probably stronger treatment effects with visual treatments.

Based on general theoretical considerations, a hypothetical everyday scenario (waiting at a tram stop) was varied according to situational conditions (environment, absence/presence and mask wearing of others) and randomly presented to a sample of university students (n = 325), who were asked to report their own intentions for norm compliance and that of potential others. Using a survey split, text and image vignettes were applied.

Both presentation formats reveal a similar conditionality of the norm, while there is no clear advantage of text or image vignettes in terms of nonresponse and processing time. However, respondents tend slightly more to comply with the norm in the text condition. While mask wearing behaviour of others waiting at the tram station is the strongest predictor in both formats, effects are even stronger, and measurement error is reduced in text vignettes. Unlike assumed, the results indicate that the normative focus may be more activated in text vignettes than in image vignettes. Possible underlying mechanisms and methodological implications are discussed.

Face-to-Face-Interviews during the Covid-19 pandemic and the effects of mask usage: Experience from Germany

Ms Karoline Estermann (University of Bonn, Department of Sociology) - Presenting Author
Ms Manuela Schmidt (University of Bonn, Department of Sociology)
Ms Rebekka Atakan (University of Bonn, Department of Sociology)

During the Covid-19 pandemic, many face-to-face surveys were forced to change the mode of data collection due to contact restriction and quarantine regulations. Survey mode was changed to telephone, online or postal interviews for surveys such as Eurobarometer, ESS and GSS. This creates a challenge in data comparability, as mode effects may substantially impact results.

In this presentation, we report experiences from the fifth wave of the Cologne Dwelling Panel, consisting of roughly 1,000 cases. In this panel, the dwellings are the units, while their residents are the spokespersons of the dwellings. In order to ensure comparability with previous waves, it was decided to maintain the face-to-face mode. The field period for the fifth wave was from June to December 2022, thus after the peak of the pandemic. In Germany, there were no contact restrictions in private housing, but face masks were still mandatory in certain areas (e.g., public transport) and persons tested positive for Covid-19 were required to quarantine. As face-to-face interviews usually take place inside the respondents’ homes, we suspected some refusals due to fear of infection. For this reason, interviewers were instructed to ask participants whether they would prefer them to keep their mask on during the interview.

We first discuss Covid-related difficulties the interviewers had in contacting and recruiting respondents, and second we analyze participant and interviewer characteristics that influenced mask usage during the interview. Third, we assess whether mask usage had an effect on the quality of data (e.g., item nonresponse, length of interview, straight lining). With our results, we present an example of the challenges and opportunities of conducting face-to-face interviews during a pandemic and we discuss which effects protection measures such as mask wearing have on data quality.