South Africa
Overview of research project
The COVID-19 pandemic and the lockdown implemented to prevent the spread of the virus has created a crisis in the economy and in education as well as posing a challenge for public health. During public health crises as what we are currently experiencing, an immense and immediate need for information and effective crisis communication is created among the public. This coupled with social media users’ inclination to share information, particularly news, regardless of whether they themselves believe the news or not, creates the circumstances for misinformation (inaccurate information) and disinformation (deceptive information) to easily be spread and diffuse, over time, across social groups. Social media platforms, such as Twitter and Facebook, have made dissemination and diffusion easier and faster.

COVID-19 and the lockdown as result of the virus have disrupted everyday life in a variety ways and for some the disruption may be overwhelming and distressing. It is therefore important to learn how people are coping during these distressing times. Coping strategies represents the efforts both behavioural and cognitive that people draw on to cope with stressful circumstances.

The primary purpose of this study is thus to determine South African social media users health information seeking behaviour and coping in light of the current lockdown because of the COVID-19 pandemic. A secondary purpose is to determine if a relationship exists between personality types and coping; as well as personality types and health information seeking behaviour. This is important because coping has been described as “personality in action under stress”, as such personality may directly facilitate or constrain coping. This study has to the potential to contribute important data regarding health information seeking behaviours of South African social media users, how this group of South Africans are coping with the lockdown and social distancing, and the association that personality as with health information seeking and coping respectively.
Name of researcher/developer
Elron Fouten
Primary organisation
Rhodes University
Opportunity type
Opportunity detail
I need assistance with distributing the questionnaire more broadly.
Self-funded (e.g. from own or institutional resources)
Stage of development
Research in progress
Research Category
Social Science