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Recreancy Theory, Media Agenda Setting, and the Coronavirus Pandemic, 2019-2020

Gustavo Mesch1,*, Kent P Schwirian2

1University of Haifa, Israel

2The Ohio State University, USA

*Corresponding Author: Gustavo Mesch, University of Haifa, Israel; E-mail: [email protected]

Received Date: May 15, 2023

Publication Date: June 9, 2023

Citation: Mesch G, et al. (2023). Recreancy Theory, Media Agenda Setting, and the Coronavirus Pandemic, 2019-2020. Clin Res. 4(3):15.

Copyright: Mesch G, et al. © (2023). 


Since COVID-19 was recognized as a global pandemic, the incidence, prevalence and mortality resulting from the disease has been described by the media widely and often. In order to reduce the rapid transmission of the virus, social institutions such as health care and government have asked citizens to adhere to both avoidant and preventive behaviors. Risk of illness and death and avoidance behavior are common elements in media coverage. In this context we explore both Recreancy Theory and Media Agenda Setting Theory. Recreancy Theory states that citizens base their risk assessments upon their evaluation of the abilities of social institutions to adequately manage and regulate risk. Media Agenda setting Theory argues that the press and other media coverage of the news has an effect on which issues, institutions, or events people pay attention to think are important. The data we use are taken from a U.S. survey conducted in March 2020 (N=8685). We first investigate the role of recreancy theory on the public’s perception that the COVID-19 is a risk for the U.S. population; and second, we investigate the extent to which that risk affects avoidant behavior change. Our findings provide partial support for Recreancy Theory that is, differences in citizen’s evaluation of the performance of different levels of government (President, State and Local Government) affects their perception of the virus as a threat to the well-being of the population. It also affects their willingness to engage in avoidant behaviors. Consistent with the Media Agenda Setting Theory, we found that frequency of exposure to the news increased both the perception of risk and the adherence to avoidant behaviors. The theoretical implications are discussed.

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