Public Perceptions on COVID-19: The Spiral of Silence Logic among Facebook Users in Armenia
The data was collected in frames of an online survey conducted on the Facebook platform, using Google forms, in the period of June 1 - June 20, 2020. The data confirms three elements of the SoS as applied to the communicative behavior of Facebook users in Armenia. First, we identified a gap between the majority’s opinion about state policies and requirements to public conduct in the pandemic and their actual mass behavior. The majority prefers not to contradict the state policies and requirements in public discussions (on Facebook), as well as report their loyalty to the officially stated rules as well as appropriate behavior while being surveyed. On the other hand, the inappropriate public behavior and massive violations of the lockdown rules are considered to be the main cause of the spread of the virus in Armenia according to the state bodies responsible for tackling the pandemic. According to the SoS logic, people in their majority are well informed about requirements to public conduct in the pandemic but don’t follow the rules, and being aware of sanctions, they hide their real opinion and either prefer to openly agree with the official position, or break the rules silently (keep silence). Second, there is a strong correlation between perceptions of the users regarding the opinion environment among their Facebook ‘friends’, and their preference for posting on their opinion, as well as commenting on others’ posts. If the communicative environment is perceived as rather contradictory to the user’s opinion and in a lesser sense as diverse, the essential part of the users surveyed prefer not to post and not to comment on others’ opinion. Female users of Facebook in Armenia are more active commenters than men, but their activity is mostly limited by the circle of familiar people whose opinion is more predictable in advance, and not threatening to their personal reputation, compared to that of the strangers.
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The data was generated in frames of the online quantitative survey designed and conducted by the authors. The survey was conducted on the Facebook platform, using Google forms, in the period of June 1 - June 20, 2020. The original questionnaire was designed in Armenian by authors and placed in a free access for everybody.