PLU professors and students dive deep into the psychology of the pandemic – Pacific Lutheran University

Grahe reached out to a colleague in Australia and learned of a researcher who was conducting a survey to measure health attitudes in response to the virus just before it became a pandemic. Both Grahe and Cook used that survey as their starting points.

Grahe and his Stat232 study featured a series of scales measuring general attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors in relation to the pandemic in the U.S., including people’s trust in media, government, knowledge about the virus, its transmission and symptoms, and health behaviors. 

One big challenge: getting folks to participate in a study about the pandemic when they were living in it. 

“We wanted a large sample from across the country,” Grahe said. “I reached out to some networks. At first, they seemed to think I was overreacting to the virus. Later, peers became so overwhelmed with converting everything to virtual learning that they didn’t have time.”

Two other institutions in New York and Georgia contributed samples from students, and some PLU students in the Statistics 232 course reached out to others on social media. Eventually, more than 900 respondents from across the country participated in the study.