Words Matter

How will people respond to COVID-19 measures?

That may depend on how the interventions are described, according to
new US-based research from pollster Frank Luntz.
Some COVID-19 terms are particularly politicized and off-putting to certain groups. For example, Republicans tend to be more averse to terms like aggressive restrictions" that suggest their constitutional freedoms are being violated. 

Sample switches to improve public perception:

  • Swap “lockdown” for “stay-at-home-order” to avoid prison language.
  • Use “pandemic” instead of “coronavirus” to emphasize the human toll, and the seriousness of the situation.

Saying the right thing is a matter of life and death, says Luntz: “If we don't get this language right, people will die.”


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