INVESTIGATE THE EFFECT OF VALUE-CONSISTENT MESSAGES WITHIN A MASK-SKEPTICAL POPULATION
Keywords:mask use, evangelicals, public opinion, Trump, partisanship
Public health experts have advocated for wearing protective face masks to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, yet some populations are resistant. Can certain messages shift attitudes toward masks? We investigate the effect of value-consistent messages within a mask-skeptical population: White evangelicals in the United States. An experiment within a national survey of White evangelicals (n = 1,212) assigned respondents to one of three conditions: One group was given a religious message equating mask use with loving your neighbor, another was given a message by Donald Trump saying mask use is patriotic, and a control group received no message. Those exposed to the religious message were more likely to see mask use as important and were more supportive of mask mandates. Republican evangelicals exposed to the patriotism message had similar responses. These findings show that messages that align with individuals’ core values—in this case, religious tenets and patriotism—can shift certain views on mask use and government mask policies to combat COVID-19, even among a comparatively mask-resistant group.