(Extended Essay) M.A.
The purpose of the study is to examine public trust in health authorities during COVID-19 and whether individuals' trust in health authorities is influenced by inconsistent health messages. Considering the origin of public trust in the public sphere, the study focuses on the online form of the public sphere- Twitter. As many studies in health communication have implemented large-scale approaches to investigate Twitter data, this study offers a qualitative analysis by conducting a close reading of tweets that mention the Center of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Dr. Anthony Fauci. The results of this research suggest that inconsistency in health guidance and information may potentially hinder public trust in health authorities. Specifically, inconsistency in numbers of COVID-19 metrics may significantly influence individual perceptions of the trustworthiness of health authorities. The rhetorical implications of research findings also suggest that existing partisan divides and general concerns in science may also shape how the public fails to trust during the COVID-19 pandemic.
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Thesis advisor: Hong, Sun-ha
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