New study indicates unique public behaviour during COVID-19

COVID-19 study, NYU Abu Dhabi, social distancing, COVID-19 pandemic, pandemic outbreak, safety restrictions, UAE government

A new study conducted by NYU Abu Dhabi (NYUAD) on the COVID-19 pandemic has found that nationwide social-distancing measures implemented by the UAE government have helped in reducing anxiety among the general population.

The ongoing research has also underlined that female heads of state are more in favour of implementing safety restrictions to curb COVID-19 than their male counterparts p. These research findings are aimed at helping the governments in understanding key policy developments and ensure best possible strategies.

The research is being conducted by Robert Kubinec and Joan Barcelo, assistant professors of Political Science at NYUAD along with a team of ten other researchers from the University of Oxford, University of Southern California and other top global academic institutions.

Through the study, they have found that social distancing measures and business restrictions were significantly associated with reduced anxiety among general public.

These findings have been published in an open archive platform called SocArXiv to ensure availability of the database to other academics from around the world for research use.

Key conclusions

The study assigns scores to governments on the basis of six policy categories - social distancing policies, school-related policies, business-related policies, health monitoring policies, health resources policies, and mask-related policies.

As per the latest findings, a number of conclusions have been drawn to support government analysis and facilitate further policy development. At the same time, the research will help academics in better understanding human behaviour during the pandemic and lockdown restrictions.

For instance, researchers found that restrictions imposed in schools were linked with higher rates of personal contact with people outside the home, higher levels of income inequality and bureaucratic corruption among other factors.

Kubinec pointed out that since the pandemic outbreak, the research has focused on gathering data and analysing government policies aimed at limiting the spread of the virus.

“However, our knowledge, in terms of which policies or policy types have been the most effective at countering COVID-19, remains limited mainly due to the scale of the pandemic and the diversity of government responses,” Kubinec added.

The research has taken the help of Coronanet to derive these findings. It is an online database that allows researchers to combine policy data from two of the most comprehensive COVID-19 policy datasets — the CoronaNet COVID-19 Government Response Event Dataset and the Oxford COVID-19 Government Response Tracker. In addition, the data was correlated to a large-scale study conducted on Facebook by Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Maryland. It was aimed at analysing citizen sentiment during the pandemic to provide a more holistic view on the risk factors.

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