New Research from the Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University (RSM), suggests that people who understand statistics and data are more likely to take COVID-19 prevention advice seriously.
The research results, published in the paper ‘The Role of Statistical Literacy in Risk Perceptions and Behaviour During the COVID-19 Pandemic’ suggest that people are more likely to voluntarily comply and wear a mask, practice social distancing and get vaccinated to prevent others from getting infected if they understand statistics and data. The research results also suggest that statistical literacy leads to a better understanding of the virus threat, the ability to keep up with changes in the situation, and the ability to more accurately incorporate new information in the formation of expectations.
By the same token, researchers Professor Daniel Metzger and Dr Mikael Paaso from RSM and Dr Vesa Pursiainen from the University of St. Gallen’s suggest that those individuals who don’t have a good understanding of statistics can make less well informed and potentially inappropriate decision making which could make them more likely to catch the virus.
Confidence in Science
Those who more are statistically literate also have a higher level of confidence in science and in healthcare and this is thought to be one of the main reasons why statistically literate people generally consider flu vaccinations more important. It follows, therefore that statistically literate people may be more likely to voluntarily receive the COVID-19 vaccine.
The research results also suggest that statistically literate people are likely to have been less satisfied with communication by the government during the pandemic, as well as being less satisfied with advice coming from media and science.
What Does This Mean For Your Business?
The research results appear to show that those who understand statistics and data may be better equipped to protect themselves (and others) during the pandemic and to act in a way that appears to be responsible given the messages from science, the government, and the media. The results also suggest that there is an education gap in the population that could be contributing to a higher infection rate. This means that more effort is needed by government and health organisations to clearly explain and present any statistical data and how this relates to government advice and measures. Clear explanations of what figures, charts/graphs and pandemic statistics mean could lead to wider understanding and acceptance and could make more people voluntarily compliant in a beneficial way. This is particularly important as regards to information about the new vaccines and how safe they are, given what appears to be a fast development time. Employing other methods such as showing influencers, celebrities, and people who appeal to many different reference groups receiving the vaccine and endorsing advice and measures may also help. It should be remembered, however, that there are many different influences on attitudes and opinions in addition to just statistical literacy and a more holistic approach may be needed to tackle what is a critical issue.