How Tom Hanks influenced people's perception of the threat of coronavirus, scientists have established
By: Margaret Wilson
Tom Hanks, a famous Hollywood film actor, fell ill with the coronavirus disease COVID-19 in the spring of 2020, as he announced publicly.
American scientists from the states of Washington and Pennsylvania, the day after Hanks broke the news, interviewed a total of 682 people to determine how the news affected their attitudes towards the coronavirus threat. The press service of the Pennsylvania State University reported.
Among those surveyed, just under 90% of respondents had heard of Hanks' posts on social networks, in which he reported that he had contracted the coronavirus. About half of this group reported that they changed their attitudes and behavior because of the news.
According to the study, people who heard the news about Hanks reported that the actor's diagnosis «clarified the reality of COVID-19» and broadened their understanding of not only the severity of the situation, but also their vulnerability to disease.
Perhaps the information about the diagnosis given to Hanks, despite his wealth and resources, led people to think that if Hanks could not avoid COVID-19, then they might not be able to do it either, the researchers note.
Scientists also conducted statistical analysis to find out what features could influence the change in people's attitudes towards coronavirus after the news about Hanks.
The results showed that people who identified with Hanks or said they knew him were more likely to change their thoughts or behavior related to COVID-19 in response to the news.
People who said they usually trust celebrities, friends, family, or Donald Trump for health information were more likely to say that Hanks' announcement led to positive changes in their behavior, the researchers note.
The findings suggest that health officials need to use these types of celebrity news to reach people who are harder to reach, scientists say.
They don't rely so much on news or scientists for health information, the researchers emphasize.
Hanks and his wife contracted the coronavirus at the beginning of the pandemic in March 2020, where the actor was working on a film about Elvis Presley.
Recall that Hanks and his wife donated blood after recovery to help develop a vaccine against coronavirus.