Who is more likely to ignore experts' advice related to COVID-19?

Brian A. O'Shea*, Michiko Ueda

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)


Failing to adhere to COVID-19 experts’ advice could have devastating consequences for individuals and communities. Here we determine which demographic factors can impact trust in COVID-19 experts. Participants consisted of more than 1875 online volunteers, primarily from the U.S. Survey data were collected before and after the first peak of the COVID-19 outbreak in the U.S. (28th of March−15th of May 2020). We consistently find that participants with a lower perceived socio-economic status, social conservatives, individualists, and participants who are less worried about COVID-19 are significantly more likely to support individuals who ignore the goverment's, scientists’, medical professionals’ COVID-19 advice. Regarding race, Black participants consistently (and Hispanics to a lesser degree) were more likely to support individuals who ignore the three expert groups relative to Whites. All these findings generalized to weaker trust towards public policy decision experts. Asian and other racial groups’ trust was consistently lower than Whites, but primarily numerically, not statistically. Age and gender showed weak or inconsistent results respectively. We provide an enhanced understanding of the demographic factors that can result in individuals/groups ignoring COVID-19 experts. Lack of compliance could increase the transmission risks of the virus. Therefore, non-partisan campaigns that target individuals/groups who distrust COVID-19 experts will likely reduce COVID-19 related deaths. Increasing expert representatives’ racial diversity may also increase trust among racial minorities.

Original languageEnglish
Article number101470
JournalPreventive Medicine Reports
Publication statusPublished - 2021 Sept
Externally publishedYes


  • COVID-19
  • Demographics
  • Experts
  • Germ Aversion
  • Trust

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Informatics
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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