Skip to Content

Search: {{$root.lsaSearchQuery.q}}, Page {{$}}


People and Pandemics: Studying International Coping and Compliance

An interdisciplinary team of researchers at the University of Michigan is leading the project People and Pandemics: Studying International Coping and Compliance to gather cross-national data about policies and responses related to the COVID-19 pandemic. The researchers aim to understand what factors affect the extent to which people are complying with social distancing policies to combat the COVID-19 pandemic and the impact that these policies are having on individuals and communities around the world. The project consists of two main parts: 1) conducting online surveys to elicit individual attitudes and behavior in over a dozen countries; and 2) collecting systematic data on government policies to combat COVID-19 across countries and over time.

Part I: Individual Attitudes & Behavior 

The survey portion of this project explores how—and the extent to which—people are actually practicing and coping with social distancing. It is being distributed in two waves in over a dozen languages and locations, including: Belarus, Canada, China, Hong Kong, Germany, Indonesia, Kyrgyzstan, Malaysia, Russia, Singapore, Sweden, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey, Ukraine, and the United States. The first wave is being conducted May–June 2020 and the second is planned for August–September 2020. The survey includes questions concerning: (1) knowledge and assessment of government policies on social distancing behavior; (2) the types of social distancing behaviors that people choose and reject; (3) perceived risk and anxiety surrounding COVID-19; (4) the difficulty of social distancing and coping with the COVID-19 crisis for individuals and families; and (5) who or what (e.g., their own governments, other countries, the WHO) people hold responsible for the coronavirus crisis. The survey also includes questions designed to gather socio-demographic information to account for alternative explanations, including: generalized trust, religiosity, access to coronavirus information, and resource barriers.

Part II: Government Policies

The researchers are also utilizing existing sources and databases already under construction to gather systematic data on government policies to combat COVID-19 as well as the enforcement mechanisms for these policies. This will enable them not only to evaluate government policies in comparative perspective, but also to complement and contextualize our cross-national survey. This information will enable the research team to better assess the social, cultural, and financial impact of COVID-19 policies on ordinary citizens and to make recommendations based on these findings.


The results of this data collection effort and analyses will provide unique insight into the key factors that promote adherence to and belief in social distancing in heterogeneous settings, as well as into the factors that promoted compliance. The aim is to provide guidance to governments in planning for future pandemics that require similar measures.

This is one of the first studies that takes a social and behavioral approach to the study of COVID. The project is led by a highly collaborative team of investigators with deep international expertise and a diversity of disciplinary perspectives. Housed at the International Institute, this project involves faculty across multiple units at the University of Michigan: Allen Hicken (political science), Pauline Jones (political science), Ann Chih Lin (public policy), Elizabeth King (public health), Laura Rozek (public health), and Twila Tardif (psychology).

Funding for this research project comes from the International Institute, Center for Southeast Asian Studies, Department of Psychology, Ford School of Public Policy, Lieberthal-Rogel Center for Chinese Studies, School of Public Health, Weiser Center for Emerging Democracies, and Weiser Center for Europe & Eurasia.


"Trust in Religious Leaders and Voluntary Compliance: Lessons from Social Distancing during COVID-19 in Central Asia"
Pauline Jones and Anil Menon
Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 2022 0(0):1-20

"Gender and Anxiety during COVID-19: Implications for Media Consumption, Knowledge, and Mitigation Behavior"
Anil Menon, Allen Hicken, Pauline Jones, and Twila Tardif
SSRN, February 23, 2022

"Global adoption of personal and social mitigation behaviors during COVID-19: The role of trust & confidence"
Pauline Jones, Anil Menon, Allen Hicken, and Laura S. Rozek
PLOS ONE, September 8, 2021

"How do you persuade skeptics to get vaccinated? Trust matters more than information"
Pauline Jones and Laura Rozek
The Washington Post, June 14, 2021

"Understanding Vaccine Hesitancy in the Context of COVID-19: The Role of Trust and Confidence in a Seventeen-Country Survey"
Laura Rozek, Pauline Jones, Anil Ramachandran Menon, Allen Hicken, Samantha Apsley, and Elizabeth King
International Journal of Public Health, May 14, 2021

"The International System After Trump and the Pandemic"
Allen Hicken, Pauline Jones, and Anil Menon
Current History, January 2021


What is Happening in Kazakhstan?
Monday, January 10, 2022

The Program on Central Asia at Harvard's Davis Center hosted an online panel discussion about protests in Kazakhstan that led to dismissal of the Cabinet, the removal of former president Nazarbayev from the Security Council presidency, the storm of the Parliament and the Almaty airport, and police violence. U-M Professor Pauline Jones joined other specialists to talk about the protesters and their objectives, the implications of Russian troop intervention, and the future of Kazakhstan and Central Asian neighbors. Other speakers include Merkhat Sharipzhanov (RFE/RL), Temur Umarov (Carnegie Moscow Center), Barbara Junisbai (Pitzer College), Nargis Kassenova (Harvard University), and Marlene Laruelle (George Washington University).

Watch the video here.


How Has COVID-19 Impacted Regime Legitimacy in Eurasia?
Friday, September 18, 2020

PONARS Eurasia hosted an online discussion about current events in Eurasia. U-M Professor Pauline Jones presented on the topic "The Impact of COVID-19 n Popular Attitudes in Central Asia. Other presenters included Sarah Wilson Sokhey (University of Colorado, Boulder), Henry E. Hale (George Washington University), Olga Onuch (University of Manchester); Volodymyr Kulyk (National Academy of Sciences, Ukraine), and Gwendolyn Sasse (Center for East European and International Studies, Berlin).

Watch the video here.


Webinar. COVID-19 Across the Globe
Monday, June 29, 2020

The International Institute and Ford School of Public Policy presented a webinar on brand new research on COVID-19 and its effects in different countries around the world. U-M Professors Pauline Jones, Elizabeth King, Ann Chih Lin, Laura Rozek, and Twila Tardif discussed findings from a recently-conducted survey. They presented the latest findings on how people feel about the disease and prevention efforts, anxiety, vaccination, blame and how it differs across different countries, regions, and among different identities. Along with discussing the research on COVID-19, the expert panel shared how the pandemic is affecting people around the world.

Watch a video recording of the webinar.


Pauline Jones is professor of political science and director of the Digital Islamic Studies Curriculum, a collaborative program of instruction in global Islamic studies across the institutions of the Big Ten Academic Alliance that provides students with a truly global perspective on Islam and the Muslim world, at the University of Michigan (U-M). Previously, she served as director of U-M’s Islamic Studies Program (2011-14) and International Institute (2014-20). Her past work has contributed broadly to the study of institutional origin, change, and impact, with an empirical focus on the former Soviet Union, primarily the five Central Asia states of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan. Currently, she is engaged in two major research projects. One explores the influence of religion on political attitudes and behavior in Muslim majority states with an emphasis on the relationship between religious regulation, religiosity, and political mobilization. The other focuses on the identifying the factors that affect the extent to which people are complying with social distancing policies to combat the COVID-19 pandemic and the impact that these policies are having on individuals and communities around the world. She has published articles in several leading academic and policy journals, including the American Political Science Review, Annual Review of Political Science, Comparative Political Studies, Current History, Foreign Affairs, Politics and Society, Europe-Asia Studies, and Resources Policy. She is author of five books: Institutional Change and Political Continuity in Post-Soviet Central Asia: Power, Perceptions, and Pacts (Cambridge 2002); The Transformation of Central Asia: States and Societies from Soviet Rule to Independence (Cornell 2003); Oil is not a Curse: Ownership Structure and Institutions in the Soviet Successor States (Cambridge 2010); Islam, Society, and Politics in Central Asia (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2016); and The Oxford Handbook on Politics in Muslim Societies (Oxford University Press, forthcoming). Her research has received generous support from several prestigious sources, including the McArthur Foundation, Carnegie Corporation of New York, the Mellon Foundation, and the National Science Foundation.