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Sci Rep ; 12(1): 3824, 2022 03 09.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1735265


The present paper examines longitudinally how subjective perceptions about COVID-19, one's community, and the government predict adherence to public health measures to reduce the spread of the virus. Using an international survey (N = 3040), we test how infection risk perception, trust in the governmental response and communications about COVID-19, conspiracy beliefs, social norms on distancing, tightness of culture, and community punishment predict various containment-related attitudes and behavior. Autoregressive analyses indicate that, at the personal level, personal hygiene behavior was predicted by personal infection risk perception. At social level, social distancing behaviors such as abstaining from face-to-face contact were predicted by perceived social norms. Support for behavioral mandates was predicted by confidence in the government and cultural tightness, whereas support for anti-lockdown protests was predicted by (lower) perceived clarity of communication about the virus. Results are discussed in light of policy implications and creating effective interventions.

COVID-19/prevention & control , Guideline Adherence , Health Behavior , Public Health , Attitude , COVID-19/virology , Humans , Longitudinal Studies , SARS-CoV-2 , Social Norms , Surveys and Questionnaires
Patterns (N Y) ; 3(4): 100482, 2022 Apr 08.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1730022


Before vaccines for coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) became available, a set of infection-prevention behaviors constituted the primary means to mitigate the virus spread. Our study aimed to identify important predictors of this set of behaviors. Whereas social and health psychological theories suggest a limited set of predictors, machine-learning analyses can identify correlates from a larger pool of candidate predictors. We used random forests to rank 115 candidate correlates of infection-prevention behavior in 56,072 participants across 28 countries, administered in March to May 2020. The machine-learning model predicted 52% of the variance in infection-prevention behavior in a separate test sample-exceeding the performance of psychological models of health behavior. Results indicated the two most important predictors related to individual-level injunctive norms. Illustrating how data-driven methods can complement theory, some of the most important predictors were not derived from theories of health behavior-and some theoretically derived predictors were relatively unimportant.

Transl Behav Med ; 11(7): 1318-1329, 2021 07 29.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1280132


In spring 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic was declared. The threat the pandemic poses as well as associated lockdown measures created challenging times for many. This study aimed to investigate the individual and social factors associated with low mental health, particularly perceived threat and lockdown measures, and factors associated with psychological well-being, particularly sense of control. An online survey was completed by participants (N = 8,229) recruited from 79 countries. In line with pre-registered hypotheses, participants showed elevated levels of anxiety and depression worldwide. This poor mental health was predicted by perceived threat. The effect of threat on depression was further moderated by social isolation, but there was no effect of sense of control. Sense of control was low overall, and was predicted negatively by maladaptive coping, but positively by adaptive coping and the perception that the government is dealing with the outbreak. Social isolation increased with quarantine duration, but was mitigated by frequent communication with close ones. Engaging in individual actions to avoid contracting the virus was associated with higher anxiety, except when done professionally. We suggest that early lockdown of the pandemic may have had detrimental psychological effects, which may be alleviated by individual actions such as maintaining frequent social contact and adaptive coping, and by governmental actions which demonstrate support in a public health crisis. Citizens and governments can work together to adapt better to restrictive but necessary measures during the current and future pandemics.

The COVID-19 pandemic is a difficult time for many; not only are people isolated at home, they may also experience the threat that COVID-19 will have a severe impact on their lives. We ran an online survey with 8,229 individuals from 79 countries in April 2020. After establishing levels of psychological well-being, we investigated which factors contribute to better psychological well-being, and which to worse. We found that levels of anxiety and depression were markedly elevated worldwide. The more people thought that COVID-19 was going to have severe effects on their lives, the more anxious and depressed they felt. This effect was even stronger when the individuals felt socially isolated, which was increased when people had been in quarantine for a long time, but reduced when people frequently communicated with their close ones. People felt more in control of their lives when they engaged in positive coping behaviors, such as reframing their situation positively, but not negative coping behaviors, such as substance use. People also felt in control when their government was dealing with the crisis well. We conclude that there are several ways in which psychological well-being can be supported, in the current pandemic but also potential future pandemics.

COVID-19 , Pandemics , Communicable Disease Control , Humans , Pandemics/prevention & control , Quarantine , SARS-CoV-2
Pers Individ Dif ; 171: 110535, 2021 Mar.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1047768


The COVID-19 pandemic presents threats, such as severe disease and economic hardship, to people of different ages. These threats can also be experienced asymmetrically across age groups, which could lead to generational differences in behavioral responses to reduce the spread of the disease. We report a survey conducted across 56 societies (N = 58,641), and tested pre-registered hypotheses about how age relates to (a) perceived personal costs during the pandemic, (b) prosocial COVID-19 responses (e.g., social distancing), and (c) support for behavioral regulations (e.g., mandatory quarantine, vaccination). We further tested whether the relation between age and prosocial COVID-19 responses can be explained by perceived personal costs during the pandemic. Overall, we found that older people perceived more costs of contracting the virus, but less costs in daily life due to the pandemic. However, age displayed no clear, robust associations with prosocial COVID-19 responses and support for behavioral regulations. We discuss the implications of this work for understanding the potential intergenerational conflicts of interest that could occur during the COVID-19 pandemic.