Our first paper from a larger comparative project on accessing information and resources during the COVID-19 pandemic is out as part of the Proceedings of the 2021 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems. First authors Katie Pine (Arizona State University) and Myeong Lee (George Mason University) made it a great experience, as it was my first time submitting to the conference. Not only was it among the 26% of papers accepted, it was also an Honorable Mention for the Best Paper (top 5% of accepted papers). The full text is available here.
Making Sense of Risk Information amidst Uncertainty: Individuals’ Perceived Risks Associated with the COVID-19 Pandemic
During a global pandemic, lay people bear a large burden of responsibility for assessing risks associated with COVID-19 and taking action to manage risks in their everyday lives, yet epidemic-related information is characterized by uncertainty and ambiguity. People perceive risks based on partial, changing information. We draw on crisis informatics research to examine the multiple types of risk people perceive in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic, the information sources that inform perceptions of COVID-19 risks, and the challenges that people have in getting the information they need to understand risks, using qualitative interviews with individuals across the United States. Participants describe multiple pandemic-related threats, including illness, secondary health conditions, economic, socio-behavioral, and institutional risks. We further uncover how people draw on multiple information sources from technological infrastructures, people, and spaces to inform the types of their risk perceptions, uncovering deep challenges to acquiring needed risk information.