School of Psychology professors providing Covid-19 policy advice to government
25 October 2021
School of Psychology professors, Nick Pidgeon and Tony Manstead, are part of the Risk Communication and Behavioural Insights working group providing expert policy advice to Welsh Government.
The group is made up of leading experts in the fields of health, public policy, science, and economics, with Professor Pidgeon and Professor Manstead both providing risk and behavioural science policy advice.
Society’s response to the pandemic has been as much about the behaviour of people as it has about understanding virology and disease modelling - how we all responded has had a direct bearing on how the disease has progressed and its consequences.
With their extensive research in social psychology, human factors and risk communication, Professor Pidgeon and Professor Manstead were both tasked with assessing the science on existing and potential risks, along with impacts and harms associated with the behaviours of people across Wales in relation to COVID-19.
Westminster and the devolved governments recognised that the behavioural element of the population was critical to the success of its strategy, with behavioural science advice being sought on a range of issues, including:
- how to maintain trust in government advice
- appropriate risk communication targeting and content
- the appropriate use of C02 monitors in buildings
- strategies to maximise vaccine uptake
- long-term behaviour changes to protect public health.
Professor Pidgeon commented that “the government in Wales has by and large listened quite carefully to much of this advice and acted on it where they could, one example being the recommendation based upon social psychology theory to consistently frame Covid-19 as a collective action problem in which we all have a responsibility in Wales to protect one another”.
He went on to say: “We are fortunate in that the First Minister Mark Drakeford was himself formerly a Professor in the School of Social Sciences here at Cardiff University, so does understand the value of rigorous behavioural sciences evidence”.
Additionally, Professor Pidgeon is also a member of the UK Cabinet Office International Best Practice Advisory Group which has for the past 18 months been evaluating the scientific evidence ofpandemic response in other countries while also contributing to scientific papers for the UK’s SAGE emergencies response committee, for example on sustaining Covid-safe behaviours
. and on application of C02 monitors to improve ventilation.
Both Professor Pidgeon and Professor Manstead have recently published articles which examine the Proposals for embedding behaviours that protect against Covid-19 transmission in the UK, and The importance of (shared) human values for containing the covid pandemic
You can also view the Welsh Government vaccine campaign poster which reflects the behaviours sciences advice on communication approach.