Fotini Christia and Elizabeth Parker-Magyar, along with co-authors Kiran Garimella, Ahmet Utku Akbiyik, and Erin Walk, investigate how narratives around life amid violence emerge through social media in north Syria, after the fall of ISIS. The authors focus on attitudes, behaviors, and information dissemination regarding topics of violence amongst the warring parties in north Syria, as well as among Syrian citizens whom the armed groups are trying to control. The study also examines whether (and how) the narrative has shifted since the COVID-19 outbreak.

COVID-19-induced restrictions on movement, along with the associated economic and social stress, have led to a notable increase in gender-based violence, particularly in the developing world. The social distancing and quarantine measures have also increased the need for online ways to disseminate information on risks and services, as well as to offer support. Fotini Christia and Elizabeth Parker-Magyar (along with co-authors Horacio Larreguy and Norhan Muhab) are designing social-media interventions in Egypt intended to curb violence against women exacerbated by COVID-19.

Thanks to the support of a Catalyst grant from the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research (CiFAR), Evan Lieberman and Allison Harell are examining the effects of information about race disparities in COVID-related mortality on public opinion. They examine whether providing information about ethnic- and race-based disparities concerning the prevalence of infectious disease elicits a sense of urgency, and helps foster the types of attitudes and behaviors that contribute to a more thoroughgoing and effective response? Or whether such information causes some to believe that this is a problem that affects “them,” but not “us”, effectively reducing personal and collective urgency? The authors test these theories with a nationally representative study.