Scottish social attitudes survey 2021/22: Attitudes to Scotland's handling of the pandemic
Findings from the Scottish Government funded Scottish Social Attitudes Survey 2021/22 ‘Attitudes to Scotland’s Handling of the Pandemic’ module.
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- Views on the use of data and science during the pandemic:
- Around two thirds (67%) trusted the data provided in Scotland during the pandemic about the spread of coronavirus ‘a great deal/quite a lot’, revealing a good overall level of trust in the data.
- Overall, people trusted the information provided by the Scottish Government during the pandemic. While both were high, a lower proportion of people trusted information from the Scottish Government ‘just about always/most of the time’ (74%) compared with information given by scientists (81%).
- Just under three quarters (72%) of people felt that the degree of reliance on evidence provided by scientists to inform decisions during the pandemic was ‘about right’.
- Most felt that the decisions made were based on the right amount of reliance on science and public opinion. Although this figure was higher in terms of using scientific information to make decisions (72%) compared with relying on the views of the public (61%). A higher proportion felt that decisions made were influenced too much by the views of the public (17%) compared with those who felt that decisions were influenced too much by evidence provided by scientists (9%).
- Perceptions of the influence that public views had on decision making during the pandemic varied by household composition, age and previous coronavirus status.
- Those who lived with at least one other person over the age of 16 were more likely to feel that the decisions made were influenced ‘far too much’ by the public than those who lived alone (6% and 1% respectively).
- Those in the youngest age group were more likely to think that the decisions made were influenced ‘far/somewhat too much’ by the public than those aged 65+ (23% of those aged 16-24 compared with 10% of those aged 65+).
- Just under a quarter (23%) of those who had tested positive for coronavirus felt that the decisions made were influenced ‘far/somewhat too much’ by the public compared with 13% of those who did not think they had ever had coronavirus.
Government procedural justice (relationship between authority and the people):
- Overall, just under two-thirds (65%) felt that the Scottish Government understood the impact of the restrictions on people’s lives ‘very/fairly well’. Women were more likely than men to have this perception (70% compared with 59%).
- Over two-fifths (44%) felt that the government had been ‘very/fairly good’ at listening to people’s views about how to best handle the coronavirus pandemic, while a fifth (20%) felt they had been ‘fairly/very bad’.
- Six in ten (60%) felt that the Scottish Government had the interests of people like them at heart ‘a great deal/quite a lot’, while 37% felt that the Scottish Government made its decisions regardless of what people wanted ‘most of the time’. Those living in rural areas were more likely to think that the Scottish Government had the interests of people like them at heart when making decisions during the pandemic (65%) than those living in urban areas (57%).
Views on how properly prepared Scotland is for another pandemic:
- Nearly a third (31%) felt ‘not at all/not very confident’ that Scotland was properly prepared for another pandemic while over two thirds (68%) felt ‘fairly/very confident’ about this.
- When controlling for other variables, party political affiliation was found to be a key driver of confidence in whether Scotland would be properly prepared for another pandemic. The odds of a Conservative supporter saying that they felt ‘not very/not at all confident’ in Scotland’s preparedness for another pandemic were almost four times greater (Or=3.6) than those whose affiliation was with the Scottish National Party (SNP) while the odds of a Labour supporter were almost three times greater (Or=2.7).
- The odds of people feeling ‘not at all/not very confident’ that Scotland would be properly prepared to deal with another pandemic were also higher among:
- Those who felt that the Scottish Government is ‘not at all/not very good’ at listening to the views of the public before taking decisions
- Those who trusted the Scottish Government to work in Scotland’s best interests ‘only some of the time/almost never’
- Those who had/believed they have had coronavirus
- Those who ‘disagreed/disagreed strongly’ that they had others in their area to turn to for support
- Age, household composition, highest educational qualification, SIMD quintile, urban/rural residence, levels of social trust and national identity were not found to be significant drivers of attitudes towards Scotland’s preparedness to deal with a future pandemic.
Associations between trust, social support and attitudes towards the handling of the pandemic:
Most of the attitudes towards Scotland’s handling of the pandemic varied according to people’s general trust in others and perceptions of social support. For example, trust in the data provided during the pandemic and feeling that the Scottish Government understood the impact of the restrictions were higher among those who felt that ‘most people can be trusted’ and those who agreed that they had people in their area to turn to for support.
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