COVID-19 risk perception in Germany and its implications for policy making


This world is in the midst of a COVID-19 pandemic. For successful virus containment, the adherence of the public to behavioural measures is of great importance. The following paper is analysing the char- acteristics of risk perception in the German public, its intertwining with the adherence to government measures and subsequent implications for policy makers. Models for risk perception range from the rational "Simplified Conjoint expected risk model" to the emotion based "Psychometric Paradigm" to combined, holistic models. The risk perception in Germany during the first months of COVID-19 was high and in line with expert's risk assessments. Still, overconfidence and an underestimation of exponential growth were seen. The risk perception in Germany was driven by irrational dread risk. However, there is a substantial influence of rational factors on risk perception, driven by knowledge and perceived control towards the virus. It is concluded that policy makers can rely on the rationality of the German public towards both the implementation of and adherence to behavioural measures. This implies that communication towards the public of both the risks of the virus and the benefits of the measures are of great importance for successful policies against COVID-19 in Germany.


Original Research



Publication date

August 2021


235 - 239