Personal harm from the Covid-19 pandemic predicts advocacy for equality

Hannah J. Birnbaum, Andrea G. Dittmann, Nicole M. Stephens, Ellen C. Reinhart, Rebecca M. Carey, Hazel Rose Markus

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


The Covid-19 pandemic has laid bare the vast amount of economic inequality in the U.S. Yet, has it influenced Americans' attitudes and behaviors toward equality? With a three-wave longitudinal survey, the current research provides evidence that experiencing personal harm (e.g., contracting Covid-19, losing jobs, or psychological distress) from the pandemic predicts an increase in people's attitudinal and behavioral advocacy for equality. Specifically, we find that experiencing greater personal harm in the early stages of the pandemic (i.e., May 2020) is associated with increased advocacy for equality one year later (i.e., May 2021; e.g., contacting a public official to express support for reducing inequality). Furthermore, we find that this increase in advocacy for equality is explained, in part, by people's greater endorsement of the external factors (e.g., bad luck, discrimination, etc.) that contribute to inequality. Our work provides evidence that the extent to which people experience harm from the Covid-19 pandemic predicts both their increased understanding of external sources of inequality, as well as their efforts to combat this inequality (e.g., by advocating for policies that combat structural contributors to inequality).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number104400
JournalJournal of Experimental Social Psychology
StatePublished - Jan 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science


  • Attributions
  • Covid-19
  • Inequality
  • Personal harm


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