How to Understand Trust in Expertise at Times of COVID-19
The COVID-19 outbreak has become a real-time test for the role of experts in governance. Scientists and experts are in the spotlight of daily debates. Excellent, timely and independent science advice is at the core of government actions to tackle this health emergency. Policymakers and experts are working together to make use of the best evidence and knowledge available. All this requires communicating scientific knowledge and uncertainty under extraordinary circumstances. In this context, understanding trust in expertise becomes essential. PERITIA investigates the conditions under which people trust experts and their expertise used for policymaking. Its team members and partners are collaborating to help the public and policymakers with their knowledge and research. We have gathered their relevant work on this page, which is continuously updated.

Confronting COVID-19 – Nudge and Sludge

Join Cass Sunstein, live online at the British Academy (BA) at 4pm on 10 June, as he speaks to BA Chief Executive Hetan Shah about the use of nudge theory, the lesser-known sludge theory and how these behaviours are manifesting in the global pandemic.

Coronavirus – Growing Divisions over the UK Government’s Response

Bobby Duffy and his colleagues from the Policy Institute at King’s College London and Ipsos MORI published a major survey showing that trust and confidence in the UK government’s response to coronavirus declined significantly over the past six weeks.

Balancing Individual Freedom and Collective Health

Together with Christiane Woopen, medical ethicist, Executive Director of CERES at the University of Cologne, and member of the PERITIA Advisory Board, the Strategy & Insider Podcast discusses the implications of COVID-19 for basic human rights and that health is only one of our fundamental goods, whereas freedom is the highest good from an ethical perspective.

Covid-19 delivers valuable lessons on how science operates

Our PERITIA colleague Shane Bergin from University College Dublin published an opinion piece in The Irish Times. Scientists have been central to Ireland’s Covid-19 response. As we move from the initial reaction, to a potentially bumpy phase of lifting and applying restrictions, he argues that sustaining public trust in science and scientists will require us talking about how science is done, as well as the outcomes of its work.

Do we really want things to go back to normal post-Covid-19?

Philosopher and chair of the PERITIA advisory board Onora O’Neill shares her thoughts on the time after Corona in an Op-ed on The Irish Times.

Is the mood tilting?

Christiane Woopen discussed the gradual easing of lockdown measures and its perception in Germany on the German radio station Deutschlandfunk Kultur.

Behavioural Science in the Context of Great Uncertainty

Liam Delaney (PERITIA, UCD Geary, LSE), Nick Chater, Paul Dolan, Ulrike Hahn, and Grace Lordan joined an online panel at the London School of Economics and Political Science on 13 May that is now available as a podcast. The impacts of COVID-19 and how we deal with them hinge on how politicians, firms and the public respond. What lessons can we learn from behavioural science about how we act in a time of crisis characterised by great uncertainty? What lessons can behavioural science learn about how it can be best placed to provide guidance in an uncertain world?

Using social and behavioural science to support COVID-19 pandemic response

Cass R. Sunstein and 41 other authors published an article in Nature on how social and behavioural science contribute to tackling Covid-19.

Does the COVID-19 crisis show people are inherently selfish?

In this video, Silvia Panizza offers three considerations for thinking that human nature is not only motivated by self-interest. The video is part of Ask CEPL, a series of videos on the Covid-19 pandemic that answers your questions.

Ireland’s COVID-19 Crisis Response

Our colleagues Maria Baghramian, Liam Delaney, and David Farrel examined Ireland’s Covid-19 crisis response in two online conferences on 24 April and 1 May. The conferences are part of a series of Covid-19 crisis policy response events hosted by, an independent online platform for informing and debating public policy in Ireland.

Three Ways People Are Reacting To Coronavirus: ‘Accepting’, ‘Suffering’ And ‘Resisting’

In this article published on The Conversation, Bobby Duffy (PERITIA) and Daniel Allington from King’s College London analyse the reaction to the coronavirus lockdown in the UK and identify three main clusters within the population regarding their underlying attitudes towards the measures.

Human Dignity and Proportionality of Measures against COVID-19

PERITIA Advisory Board Member Judith Simon has been interviewed for an article in the Austrian newspaper Kurier. She discusses a statement from Wolfgang Schäuble, President of the German Parliament (Bundestag), from an ethical point of view. He has recently stated that not all measures could be justified by the protection of lifes against Covid-19 and that the fundamental right to human dignity not necessarily protects people from having to die.

The Role of Experts in Policy at the Time of COVID-19

In this video recording, PERITIA’s principal investigator Maria Baghramian provided some reflections on the role of experts at the time of COVID19 in an online policy session organised by UCD’s Geary Institute (her presentation starting at 00:26:30)

Say Goodbye to the Information Age – It’s all About Reputation now

In light of the overwhelming amount of expertise and advice in the Covid-19 crisis and the apparent challenge to assess this information, PERITIA investigator and Work Package Leader Gloria Origgi reflects on what she names the “reputation age”, in which we should rank the quality of information not by its content but by the agenda of its source.

Daily Emotional Well-being During the COVID-19 Pandemic

PERITIA investigator Liam Delaney (Work Package Experimental Measures of Trust/Distrust), jointly with Leonhard K. Lades, Kate Laffan, and Michael Daly, has published a study on the activities, interactions and settings of the lives of Irish people during the Covid-19 outbreak. The sample (N = 604) were assessed in Ireland on the 25th March, 2020, following the closure of schools and non-essential businesses. The findings highlight key activities that may play a protective role in relation to well-being during the pandemic, the importance of setting personal limits for exposure to Covid-19 related media coverage, and the need for greater educational supports to facilitate home schooling during this extremely challenging period.

3 Bad Reasons to Defy Restrictions During the COVID-19 Crisis

Why should I do what I am told to do by the government and the medical authorities? Rowland Stout, PEriTiA’s team member and leader of Ethics of Trust Work Package, addresses this non trivial question.

Broad Expertise is Necessary for Sustainable Corona Measures

Opinion piece by José van Dijck, leader of the PERITIA Work Package Trust in a Changing Media Landscape, published in the Dutch newspaper Het Financieele Dagblad.

A Good Corona App Needs Public Control

PERITIA’s José van Dijck and Albert Meijer from Utrecht University discuss the conditions that should apply when using a Tracing-App to fight the Covid-19 pandemic. Opinion article published in the Dutch newspaper De Volkskrant.

“We Must Show Solidarity"

Our colleague Judith Simon, Professor at University of Hamburg and member of the PERITIA Advisory Board, offers some advice on ethical questions concerning Covid-19 in an interview with the German local newspaper Oberhessische Zeitung.

Under Lockdown in Piedmont

Silvia Panizza from CEPL reflects on how the increasingly severe restrictions in Italy have pushed to the forefront questions about humans’ animal nature, the links we form between each other, and the links we have to other animals.

No Signs of Lock-down Fatigue in Ireland… yet  

Opinion piece published in the Irish Times and co-authored by PERITIA’s team member and Professor of Economics at UCD Liam Delaney (Work Package Experimental Measures of Trust/Distrust) with Pete Lunn.

Why coronavirus (and other) falsehoods are believable  

Cass R. Sunstein, PERITIA Advisory Board Membersheds light on how social sciences can explain why false statements are believed by the public.

Behavioural Science academic resources related to Coronavirus  

Useful resources on Covid-19 and Behavioural Science compiled by PERITIA team member Liam Delaney (UCD/Work Package Experimental Measures of Trust/Distrust).

Philosopher in Italian coronavirus lockdown on how to think positively about isolation  

PERITIA team member Silvia Panizza (UCD) casts a philosophical eye on the current Covid-19 crisis.

“When Resources are Scarce, Existential Questions Arise”  

Christiane Woopen, PERITIA Advisory Board Member, was interviewed by magazine Der Spiegel about crucial ethical questions that doctors are facing to address the Covid-19 emergency.  

Sense about Science Resources 

PERITIA’s partner Sense about Science provides key insights and advice on how to engage with uncertainty and conspiracy theories.

European Academies Support Fight Against COVID-19

PERITIA’s partner ALLEA offers useful research funding and information resources from European Academies and other key stakeholders to help tackle Covid-19 crisis. 

Science Fighting Coronavirus – Science Advice for Policy by European Academies (SAPEA)  

SAPEA (Science Advice for Policy by European Academies) has compiled a series of key resources on science advice and Covid-19, as well as a communications guide for disseminating research in these uncertain times. 

Responses to the COVID-19 Pandemic from UCD Centre for Ethics in Public Life

University College Dublin Centre for Ethics in Public Life (CEPL) has published their members’ contributions to the public discussion around the Covid-19 health emergency. They are also accepting ethical questions concerning the current situation from the general public.