University of Arkansas researchers receive grant to study impact of COVID-19 fear

Joplin Area Coronavirus

State Rep. Nicole Clowney has her temperature checked before entering the Jack Stephens Center at the University of Arkansas Thursday, March 26, 2020 in Little Rock, Ark. The basketball arena was converted into a temporary House chamber due to concerns about coronavirus as lawmakers met for a special session on a budget shortfall. (AP Photo/Andrew Demillo)

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — Researchers at the University of Arkansas recently received a $185,000 grant from the National Science Foundation to study the impact of COVID-19 on society’s collective social and psychological wellbeing, the university announced on Wednesday.

Department of Sociology and Criminology professor Kevin M. Fitzpatrick, associate professor Casey Harris and assistant professor Grant Drawve were awarded the Rapid Response Research grant to conduct a study titled “The Diffusion of Fear and Coronavirus: Tracking Individual Response Across Time and Space.”

The university says the study will examine “how individuals’ perceived risk and expressions of fear – including extreme social distancing, panic purchasing and hoarding – are driven by demographic, physical and mental health, social connectivity, and media consumption characteristics.”

“Many are fearful of the illness as well as how it is already impacting our economic and social systems,” Fitzpatrick said. “We will continue to experience significant disruptions in our daily lives as more cases are detected, which will compound the effects on our social and psychological wellbeing.”

The research aims to help organizations, governments and policymakers better understand the personal, social and systemic consequences of epidemiological disasters like the COVID-19 pandemic.

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