Italy was the first European country to be affected by COVID-19, facing an unprecedented situation. The reaction required drastic solutions and highly restrictive measures, which severely tested the trust of the Italian people. Nevertheless, the effectiveness of the introduced measures was not only linked to political decisions, but also to the choice of the Italian people to trust and rely on institutions, accepting such necessary measures. In this context, the role of information sources was fundamental, since they strongly influence public opinion. The central focus of this research was to assess the information seeking behavior (ISB) of the Italian citizens, to understand how they related to information and how their specific use of information influenced public opinion. By making use of a survey addressed to 4260 Italian citizens, we identified extraordinarily virtuous behavior in the population: people strongly modified their ISB in order to address the most reliable sources. In particular, we found a very high reliance on scientists, which is particularly striking, if compared to the past. Moreover, starting from the survey results, we used social simulation to estimate the evolution of public opinion. Comparing the ISB during and before COVID-19, we discovered that the shift in the ISB, during the pandemic, may have actually positively influenced public opinion, facilitating the acceptance of the costly restrictions introduced.
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