Prevention is political: political party affiliation predicts perceived risk and prevention behaviors for COVID-19

Marc T. Kiviniemi, Heather Orom, Jennifer L. Hay, Erika A. Waters

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


Background: Many US politicians have provided mixed messages about the risks posed by SARS-CoV-2/COVID-19 and whether and to what extent prevention practices should be put in place to prevent transmission. This politicization of the virus and pandemic may affect individuals’ risk perceptions and willingness to take precautions. We examined how political party affiliation relates to risk perception for one’s own and other people’s likelihood of SARS-CoV-2 infection/COVID-19 illness. Methods: We surveyed members of a nationally-representative, probability-sampling based survey panel (N = 410) to examine their risk perceptions, precautionary behaviors, and political party affiliation. Results: The more strongly one identified as a Republican, the less risk one perceived to oneself from SARS-CoV-2/COVID-19 and the less risk one perceived other people faced. Moreover, those identifying as more strongly Republican engaged in fewer preventive behaviors. Conclusions: This differential response may affect virus transmission patterns and poses a considerable challenge for health communications efforts.

Original languageEnglish
Article number298
JournalBMC Public Health
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022, The Author(s).


  • COVID-19
  • Political affiliation
  • Preventive behaviors
  • Risk perception
  • SARS-CoV-2

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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