NewsStudy: “Nice” coronavirus perceived as harmless

Study: “Nice” coronavirus perceived as harmless

Researchers have examined how people assess the coronavirus on the basis of images. There is a difference between 3D illustrations and real black and white images.

Barcelona – The more appealing a graphic representation of the coronavirus is, the less scary and contagious the pathogen is perceived.

This is one of the results of a study by scientists from the Autonomous University of Barcelona. In contrast, the virus is perceived as more contagious when it is shown as a black and white photo, the researchers write in the science magazine “Plos One”.

For their investigation, the scientists evaluated extensive questionnaires that the 333 anonymous participants filled out online between April and May 2020. There were about as many women as men participating, and most of them had academic training.

According to the study, heavily edited and colored photos and three-dimensional illustrations of the coronavirus have been seen in the media since the beginning of the pandemic, which the participants would have found “beautiful”. At the same time, however, hardly any scientific value was attributed to such representations and the virus was assessed as less contagious and dangerous.

Real photos of the virus, which are only possible with an electron microscope, are different from the “beautiful” images in black and white and two-dimensional. However, these were assessed as more scientific by the respondents. The corona virus was also assigned a higher risk of infection.

Because of these results, the authors advocate reconsidering the way science and the media portray dangerous viruses in view of the negative correlation between beauty and science. This seems to be of great importance given the importance of citizens and their response in fighting a pandemic. dpa

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