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The Social Roots of Fears at the Start of the SARS-CoV-2 Pandemic. An Online Study of the Ethnic Hungarian Population in Romania


The paper addresses the issue of contamination fear within the context of the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic. The everyday lives and feelings of the ethnic Hungarian population in Transylvania, Romania, were investigated with an online survey in the middle of the lockdown, in April 2020. In the search for the socioeconomic and demographic determinants of perceived infection risk, we rely on descriptive and two-variable analysis as well as explanatory regression models controlling for covariates. The results show that respondents perceive public places to hold the highest risk of contamination from the virus. In the article, we also draw the sociodemographic profile of the “fearful” and “brave” attitudes towards the threat represented by the virus. Perceived infection risk is higher for the elderly, the more educated, and the non-religious people. The paper reveals that respondents’ concerns, beyond that of infection, are predominantly economic in character.