NSF Awards LSU Manship School Scholars Rapid Response Research Grant for Study on Long-Term Effects of COVID-19 Pandemic Anxiety

July 8, 2020

BATON ROUGE—The National Science Foundation (NSF) has awarded $138,613 to LSU Manship School of Mass Communication researchers Michael Henderson, director of LSU’s Public Policy Research Lab, and Martin Johnson, Kevin P. Reilly Sr. Chair in Political Communication and dean of the Manship School, to further their research on social and economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic in Louisiana.

The NSF Rapid Response Research (RAPID) grant will fund Henderson and Johnson’s study, titled “Pandemic Anxiety, Recovery, and Inequality: Evaluating Institutions and Policy in a Coronavirus Hotspot,” to examine the long-term effects of anxiety on political attitudes and behaviors during recovery from health and economic crises in Louisiana. The project stems from their previous research findings documenting anxiety surrounding health and economic hardships among Louisiana residents during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We will track the health and economic hardships Louisianans are facing as well as their emotional responses to the pandemic – their fears, worries and anxieties,” Henderson said. “What are the long-run effects of these hardships and the anxieties they produce on our social and economic recovery? How might they shape our trust in our government, or our feelings of connection to our own communities and to other communities throughout the state? Is this pandemic bringing us together or splitting us apart?”

The research team will analyze long-term anxiety effects from the COVID-19 pandemic to identify their enduring impact on Louisianans’ trust in institutions, leaders, policy preferences and their willingness to engage in the public sphere. The study will also reveal the ease or difficulty with which anxiety about the novel coronavirus dissipates, as well as examine the relationship between the psychology of emotion (e.g. heightened vulnerability to the disease) and how social structures shape political experience.

“We’re eager to continue our work on Louisiana resident reactions to the pandemic and its economic impacts,” Johnson said. “It is vitally important to understand how people are taking in information, responding to public health advice, and making important decisions that affect the economy and governance.”

Henderson and Johnson’s research findings will inform policy discussion about economic, health and political phenomena surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, including disparities across racial and ethnic groups.


LSU’s Manship School of Mass Communication ranks among the strongest collegiate communication programs in the country, with its robust emphasis on media and public affairs. It offers undergraduate degrees in public relations, journalism, political communication, digital advertising and pre-law, along with four graduate degree programs: Master of Mass Communication, Ph.D. in Media and Public Affairs, certificate of Strategic Communication, and dual MMC/Law degree. Its public relations students were recently ranked the #1 team in the nation, and its digital advertising and student media teams frequently earn national recognition.

Contact Aariel Charbonnet | LSU Manship School of Mass Communication | acharbonnet1@lsu.edu