Survey of Dutch people’s perception and use of media

High trust in government websites on corona; news broadcasts main source of information

During the coronavirus pandemic, residents of the Netherlands place the most trust in websites of organisations such as the RIVM, Municipal Health Services and government ministries. However, only 1 out of 7 Dutch people use these websites as their main source of information. The vast majority – around two thirds of those surveyed – consider television news broadcasts to be their most important sources of information. This figure is the result of a survey conducted among a representative group of Dutch respondents, led by Mark Bos (Freudenthal Institute) in collaboration with research bureau Newcom.

A similar survey had been conducted a few weeks earlier in Italy, when the country was at a comparable stage of the coronavirus epidemic. Remarkably, the results showed that people’s opinions in Italy and the Netherlands generally correspond with regard to important sources of information. When asked which sources they trusted most, respondents in both countries gave official websites relatively high scores. In the Netherlands, 39 percent stated that they trusted these sources the most, and in Italy 48 percent agreed with that statement.

Compliance with rules

The survey also showed that high levels of trust in government organisations is an important factor in compliance with control measures. Dutch people who trust these organisations’ websites the most were also more likely to comply with the coronavirus prevention measures than respondents with the lowest levels of trust in these websites. Both Dutch and Italian respondents were very positive about the government’s activities and the RIVM and its Italian equivalent. In the Netherlands, 77 percent rated the activities undertaken by the RIVM as very positive, while in Italy that percentage is even higher at 87 percent.

Regional differences

There are some notable regional differences in compliance with the coronavirus control measures. Respondents in the provinces of Friesland and Flevoland were least likely to abide by the 1.5-meter distance rule. In the south and east of the country, however, people are relatively more likely to avoid public transport.

About the study

The survey was held among a group of 1,222 people representative of the Netherlands’ population aged 18 and up. Where possible, the study also drew ties to Italian research conducted around the same time by Observa Science in Society Monitor.

In this study, Utrecht University collaborated with Newcom Research & Consulancy, an independent bureau that works for organisations in the fields of education, health care, media and mobility, and which uses full-service market research to provide insight into how they can optimally meet the needs of their target groups.