- People strongly prefer a fairer and more sustainable way of life in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Yet, despite not believing it will materialize or that others share the same progressive desires.
New research sheds intriguing light on what people have missed the most and wish for the future. The international study, headed by the University of Bristol, reflects people’s preferences in the UK and US in the early and late pandemic stages and reveals striking similarities in their perspectives.
When presented with various scenario options for the future, a “fairer future with grassroots leadership” was around four times more prevalent, supported by about 40% of participants, than a “return to normal,” sponsored by less than 10% in both the UK and the US.
However, the majority of respondents expected normalcy to return regardless of their preferences, mistakenly believing that their views were in the minority and that the majority desired a return to the status quo.
“The findings revealed people’s appetite for positive change, but also a strong sense of scepticism about whether this would materialize or that their views were widely shared,” said lead author Professor Stephan Lewandowsky, Chair in Cognitive Psychology at the University of Bristol.
“It is severe for everyone to understand this, including leaders and policymakers, so that we can recognize and raise awareness of the common consensus, contrary to popular belief.” When people begin to feel like they are in the majority with their hopes, it instills greater belief and action toward achieving and realizing them.”
“This study provides hugely rich insights into people’s feelings during the COVID-19 pandemic and how they want to emerge from it,” said co-author Keri Facer, Professor of Educational and Social Futures at the university’s School of Education.
While many people have made great sacrifices and losses, there are some silver linings that people want to hold onto for their benefit and the greater good. These include having more time and flexibility to devote to family, as well as taking a more active role in the community, caring for others, and protecting the environment, which is also in grave danger.”
Although a preference for a more progressive future was evident overall, it was strongest among respondents on the political left and center-left wing. Opposition was only apparent on the extreme right, with those on the center-right wing largely indifferent.
Source: University of bristol