Scientists, presidents, and pandemics-comparing the science-politics nexus during the Zika virus and COVID-19 outbreaks.

Academic Article


  • Objective: We investigate how beliefs about scientists and presidents affect views about two pandemics, Zika virus (2016) and COVID-19 (2020). Methods: Three New Hampshire surveys in 2016 and 2020 provide data to test how beliefs about scientists' practices and presidential approval relate to pandemic views. Results: Support for presidents consistently predicts perceptions of scientists' integrity and trust in science agencies for information, but the directionality changes from 2016 to 2020-increased trust among Obama-supporters; decreased trust among Trump-supporters. Respondents who believe scientists lack objectivity are also less likely to trust science agencies during both Zika and COVID-19 and are less apt to be confident in the government's response in 2016. Assessments of pandemic responses become increasingly political during 2020; most notably, support for President Trump strongly predicts confidence in the government's efforts. Conclusion: Results highlight how beliefs about scientists' practices and presidents are central to the science-politics nexus during pandemics.
  • Authors


    Publication Date

  • November 2021
  • Published In

    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Start Page

  • 2482
  • End Page

  • 2498
  • Volume

  • 102
  • Issue

  • 6