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COVID-19 Grants

Social science will play a crucial role in understanding the crisis of COVID-19.

  • Doctor with laptop and stethoscope

At the Cornell Center for Social Sciences (CCSS) we believe that social science will play a crucial role in understanding the crisis of COVID-19 and future crises. Some critical topics already emerging are: child abuse and reporting under stay-at-home orders, responses to health/risk communication, risk during incarceration and early release, aging and social isolation, hospice design and technologies, policy/ethical issues around being tested (or possessing antibodies) versus not, global/climate impacts, economic effects, and the promise and peril of mobile data. Of course, there are many more.

For additional resources: Public Opinion Data Related to COVID-19 and Roper 2020 Coronavirus Topic Tracker

We are proud to announce the following projects have been selected for rapid COVID-19 funding. See additional details in the Chronicle

Moral Values and Perceptions of COVID-19 Impact and Recovery, CCSS 


People's moral values influence their social, practical, and economic judgments in counterintuitive ways. The values that function to bring us together -- the "binding" values of loyalty, purity, respect for authority -- have been shown to facilitate attitudes that drive us apart. including stigmatization and blame of victims. In this research, using online experimental social psychology methods, we measure the effect of "binding" values on stigmatization of COVID-19 victims, as well as willingness to help communities and purchase from businesses strongly affected by COVID-19. This research has implications for determining the most effective public messaging for encouraging prosociality and economic recovery in the context of COVID-19.


A Comparative Study of Expertise for Policy in the COVID-19 Pandemic, CCSS

As policy makers across the globe work to avert catastrophic health and economic outcomes, they are struggling with a difficult question: what makes expert knowledge credible, legitimate, and reliable for use in public policy? That question becomes especially urgent when national and regional authorities face scientific uncertainty and fast-moving events that cross geopolitical borders. Using the method of cross-national comparison, this project will analyze the challenges of translating knowledge into policy during a fast-moving, global crisis. Prior research in science & technology studies (STS) has shown that a nation’s institutions, traditions, and cultural commitments influence its ways of gathering knowledge. A research team of established STS scholars in 10 countries will compare the sources of expertise policymakers used. Results may contribute to cross-national learning and identification of best practices. 


Measuring the Economic and Environmental Consequences of COVID-19, CCSS and Cornell Atkinson

Real-time, high-frequency, and high-resolution data will be used to measure the economic and environmental impacts of COVID-19. When the availability and reliability of official statistics are in question, we put big data, machine learning, and economic modeling to work to deliver fact-based analysis and in-time policy recommendations. The primary data sources come from China and US and the results have global implications. 


Social Isolation, Loneliness, and Prosociality During COVID-19, CCSS

A national sample across the adult age spectrum will be used to examine how prosocial orientations and behaviors are linked to well-being and behavior over the next 4 months of the pandemic and examine whether a brief prosocial intervention can alter perceptions of loneliness, as well as psychological perceptions of the pandemic threat essential for adaptive coping. Specifically, our aims are:

1. To recruit a national sample of 2,000 adults stratified across age groups (18-34, 35-49, 50-64, 65+) for a 4-month, 3-wave longitudinal study of how prosocial orientations and behaviors are linked to mental and physical well-being, social isolation and loneliness, and health behavior over time.

2. To test whether a brief prosocial orientation intervention can reduce perceptions of loneliness and enhance perceptions of control, optimism, self-efficacy regarding optimal pandemic coping behaviors, social connectedness, and less distress.


Coronavirus, Health Behavior, and Public Policy, CCSS

This award supports Waves 3 and 4 of a panel survey of 3000 Americans on the political foundations of health behavior in response to COVID-19. Waves 1 and 2 (both completed) were funded through an NSF Rapid (Award # 2026737). Embedded in the survey are a range of experimental manipulations to probe the links from partisanship, xenophobia/anti-immigrant bias, economic hardship, emotions, and pro-social behaviors and policy preferences. In addition to supporting Waves 3 and 4, funding from CCSS will seed a future application to the Russell Sage Foundation to support anticipated Waves 5-8.


CoRUS: Coronavirus in Russia and Ukraine Survey, CCSS

The COVID-19 pandemic has been seen widely as a boon to autocrats and a threat to democracy. This study examines citizens' willingness to trade-off rights and liberties for perceived security, as well as how citizens assess their government's response to the crisis, using panel surveys of public opinion in Russia and Ukraine.


Understanding increased social bias during the COVID-19 crisis in the United States, CCSS*

Award returned due to NSF funding, congrats!

The COVID-19 crisis has generated major social and economic strife in the U.S., including

increased reports of social bias directed toward immigrants and people of Asian descent. By partnering with the world’s largest survey organization (SurveyMonkey), this project will draw on more than 150,000 survey interviews to provide an unprecedented view of the spread and scope of COVID-related social bias, including how bias tracks the spread of the disease itself, over time and across regions. In addition to documenting social bias, this project will test novel theoretical predictions about the links between health and economic threats, risk perception, and intergroup prejudice, at the national as well as local levels.


Implications of Course Enrollment Structure for the Potential of Epidemic Spread on a College Campus, CCSS

Kim Weeden (Sociology),; Benjamin Cornwell (Sociology),

This project will use complete student transcript data to map the bipartite (two-mode) network that connects students to each other via their enrollment in college courses, thereby creating social structural conditions for the spread of COVID-19 on college campuses. We will evaluate how clusters of course offerings, the timing of courses throughout the week, and mode of class instruction affect the structure of this network. We will also assess how students with different majors, level in school, gender, and race occupy different positions within the network.


Flood Risk in COVID-19 Context, CCSS and Cornell Atkinson

This project will measure comparative and interactive risk perceptions and responses for COVID-19 and flood risk in flood-vulnerable municipalities. A 750-household questionnaire on flood risk will be redesigned to incorporate parallel measures of COVID-19 risk perception and behavior. We will measure predictors of concern and response behavior derived from relevant literature. Flood and COVID-19 risks differ across key psychometric and sociological constructions in their risk profiles. We will test hypotheses, with special attention to risk interactions, on how self-reported perceptions and responses vary between these two risks.