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Fearing fear itself: Crowdsourced longitudinal data on Covid-19-related fear in Sweden

Tishelman, C., Hultin-Rosenberg, J., Hadders, A. & Eriksson, L. E. ORCID: 0000-0001-5121-5325 (2021). Fearing fear itself: Crowdsourced longitudinal data on Covid-19-related fear in Sweden. PLoS One, 16(7), article number e0253371. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0253371


BACKGROUND: The Covid-19 pandemic has had unprecedented effects on individual lives and livelihoods as well as on social, health, economic and political systems and structures across the world. This article derives from a unique collaboration between researchers and museums using rapid response crowdsourcing to document contemporary life among the general public during the pandemic crisis in Sweden.

METHODS AND FINDINGS: We use qualitative analysis to explore the narrative crowdsourced submissions of the same 88 individuals at two timepoints, during the 1st and 2nd pandemic waves, about what they most fear in relation to the Covid-19 pandemic, and how their descriptions changed over time. In this self-selected group, we found that aspects they most feared generally concerned responses to the pandemic on a societal level, rather than to the Covid-19 disease itself or other health-related issues. The most salient fears included a broad array of societal issues, including general societal collapse and fears about effects on social and political interactions among people with resulting impact on political order. Notably strong support for the Swedish pandemic response was expressed, despite both national and international criticism.

CONCLUSIONS: This analysis fills a notable gap in research literature that lacks subjective and detailed investigation of experiences of the general public, despite recognition of the widespread effects of Covid-19 and its' management strategies. Findings address controversy about the role of experts in formulating and communicating strategy, as well as implications of human responses to existential threats. Based on this analysis, we call for broader focus on societal issues related to this existential threat and the responses to it.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: © 2021 Tishelman et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
Q Science > QR Microbiology > QR180 Immunology
R Medicine > RA Public aspects of medicine > RA0421 Public health. Hygiene. Preventive Medicine
Departments: School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Nursing
SWORD Depositor:
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