Over half of Brits say they’ve felt angry about another person’s behaviour in relation to the pandemic and 1 in 12 have stopped speaking to someone due to an argument about COVID-19, a study has found.
The study by King’s College London found 53% of people had felt angry with others they knew because of their behaviour in relation to the coronavirus pandemic.
They found the number was even higher among people who used social media to get most of their information about the pandemic (69%), people who viewed the virus as a risk to themselves (62%), and people who find coronavirus stressful (67%).
Dr James Rubin who took part in the study said: “Covid-19 has caused – or revealed – tension within the population. As restrictions were eased, more people were out and about, making it is easier to see who was sticking to the rules and who was not.”
The numbers become even starker when only friends and family are considered.
Around a quarter of people said they had had arguments with friends or family about how to behave during the pandemic.
This almost doubled when the respondent got a lot of their information from social media.
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Dr Louise Smith, senior research associate at King’s Colleg London said: “People who rely on social media for information about the pandemic, as well as those who believe a conspiracy theory about face masks, were more likely to have reported anger or having been involved in confrontations with others.
“This highlights the importance of combatting misinformation on coronavirus and making sure that information published from all sources about coronavirus and protective measures is reliable.”
Money worries also led to increased arguments, with 42% saying they’d fallen out with a family member and also had financial issues.
The study also found 8% of people had stopped talking to a friend or family because of a disagreement about the pandemic.
Those who got their information primarily from social media platforms like WhattsApp, Twitter, YouTube, or Facebook were four times more likely to no longer be on speaking terms with someone close after an argument around the pandemic.
The study also found nearly one in five people (18%) have confronted someone for not staying a sufficient distance away from others or for being in too large a group.
Just over one in 20 (6%) reported having been confronted themselves for not wearing a face mask, and one in 20 (5%) say they’ve been reported to the authorities for failing to do so.
Conversely, one in 12 people (8%) say they’ve confronted someone for not wearing a face mask, while one in 20 (5%) say they’ve reported someone to the authorities for not doing so.
The study also found signs the pandemic had brought some people together, with 37% saying they feel closer to their neighbours or local community than they did before the crisis began.