Your browser is unsupported

We recommend using the latest version of IE11, Edge, Chrome, Firefox or Safari.

How do values influence stay-at-home attitudes during the COVID-19 health crisis?

SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus

There is a range of attitudes among citizens to recently enacted stay-at-home recommendations and orders aimed at slowing the spread of the COVID-19 virus that have been announced across the country. Understanding people’s justifications for following or resisting these directives is key to helping policy makers craft more persuasive public health messaging. Elena Zheleva, assistant professor, Barbara Di Eugenio, professor and director of graduate studies, and Elisabeta Marai, associate professor, all with UIC’s Computer Science Department, and Andrew Rojecki, associate professor of communication, received a one year, nearly $100,000 National Science Foundation Grant for Rapid Response Research (RAPID) for their study, “Stay-at-home attitudes and their impact on the COVID-19 pandemic.”

The researchers are developing algorithms to analyze stay-at-home attitudes expressed on social media, and will then correlate these sentiments to their impact on the pandemic, considering geographical locations and socioeconomic context.

“This project will develop a novel computational frame analysis methodology that combines moral foundations theory, natural language processing, causal inference, and data visualization,” Zheleva said.

Massive amounts of data will be analyzed; as of mid- May, over 130 million Tweets with COVID-19 related keywords were sent.

“It’s an evolving situation,” Zheleva explained.  “When we started writing this proposal no one had started protesting the stay-at-home orders. The proposal has become much more relevant.”

Understanding these attitudes by focusing on the values people use to justify resistance to such health measures will provide health officials with a means to re-frame their messages to appeal to and change the opinions of target audiences.

The grant period runs through April 30, 2021.


Scientists around the world are racing to contribute to the understanding of the novel SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus, and the COVID-19 disease it causes. Here at UIC, researchers in the Computer Science Department are engaged in studies related to the disease outbreak. Updates to the research will be published as they are made available.