Covid-19 lockdowns may be making us more authoritarian | Torsten Bell
We know governments are swayed by public opinion, but government policy may change us, too
Public preferences can affect public policy – that’s what the whole democracy thing is about. Or at least the focus group part of it. But it turns out the policy/preferences relationship is a two-way street: government policy can affect our preferences, too. That’s the conclusion of new research examining Germans’ willingness to be vaccinated.
Germans were asked how likely they were to agree to be vaccinated under different government approaches. And, by a clear margin, they were more positive about coming forward if vaccination was optional rather than mandatory. That difference reflects their reaction to the government approach, not any different information about vaccine benefits or risks. Willingness to be jabbed was also linked to trust in public institutions – so the NHS’s vaccine success is about more than sticking the needles in.