The Social Representation of Coronavirus during the First French Lockdown

Sandrine Gaymard1, *, Nino Peulens1, Wilson Engelmann2, Romain Hidrio1, Mathieu Desgré1
1 Departement of Psychology, LPPL EA 4638 -University of Angers, Angers 49100, France
2 Departement of Law – University of Vale do Rio dos Sinos, Unisinos, Brazil

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© 2022 Gaymard et al.

open-access license: This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Public License (CC-BY 4.0), a copy of which is available at: This license permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

* Address correspondence to this author at the Department of Psychology – University of Angers, Angers 49100, France; E-mail:



More than two years ago, the world was hit by the health crisis of COVID-19. This crisis has had many impacts, some of which are not yet fully visible. Publications have increased in this field, but some subjects remain to be studied in depth, such as the question of territorial or social inequalities in the face of this health crisis and its illustration in the field of social thinking.


This qualitative research is based on the hierarchical free association method used in Social Representations Theory (SRT). The survey was conducted on a French sample during the first lockdown between March and May, 2020. Different groups and social categories were questioned, including rural/urban, executives, employees, or unemployed people.

The results showed a social representation of the coronavirus that differs in certain groups, with, for example, a greater perception of risk in the unemployed group.


These results confirm that the consequences of this health crisis since the first lockdown in March, 2020, had already impacted representations that reflected social and territorial inequalities.


These results are discussed in the light of international experience and, in particular, that of Brazil, one of the countries most affected by the health crisis.

Keywords: COVID-19, Social representations, Lockdown, Social and territorial inequalities, Qualitative research, Health crisis.