An explorative comparison study on policy, messages in the media, and trust in The Netherlands, Germany, and Belgium throughout the COVID-19 pandemic
MetadataShow full item record
The public’s trust in the government is required to ensure the compliance of measures that include behavioral responses, especially during a crisis such as the COVID-19 pandemic. In this study, citizens’ trust for The Netherlands, Belgium and Germany throughout different phases of the pandemic will be researched using Eggers et al.’s (2021) model for building trust in the government. This explorative and comparative analysis of a variety of datasets provides a high-level snapshot overview of the differences between the countries’ approaches to cushion the social, financial and health issues due to the pandemic. The research question for this study is ‘How do policies, measures and trust signals in the media relate to citizens’ trust in Germany, Belgium and The Netherlands throughout different phases of the pandemic?’. Trust signals in the media are studied by a content analysis of the heads of the states’ press conferences throughout the pandemic to provide more insight into the narratives from the government. The research provides provisional conclusions that throughout the pandemic, the countries remained around the same level of trust. The Netherlands and Germany saw a comparable trend in trust: the highest levels of trust pre-pandemic, and a decline in trust throughout the pandemic. Additionally, from the measures, we found no relationship between the timing or strictness of the measures and trust. Regarding policies, it was also noticeable that larger spending and a larger variety of policies do not relate to trust. Lastly, no relationship was found between the trust signals in speech and citizens’ trust in the government. The findings confirm and further illustrate the complexity of trust. For further research, we suggest studying the relationship between trust and the governmental approach through surveys and quantitative data. Additionally, it is recommended to research contextual factors such as social media.