service navigation

EASP – European Association of Social Psychology

EASP Extra Grant Report by Stefano Pagliaro

15.03.2021, by Tina Keil in grant report

University of Chieti-Pescara, Chieti, Italy; Project: Improving Institutional Communication at Time of COVID-19: Antecedents, Processes, and Consequences

From top left: Stefano Pagliaro, Simona Sacchi, Maria Giuseppina Pacilli, Marco Brambilla
From top left: Stefano Pagliaro, Simona Sacchi, Maria Giuseppina Pacilli, Marco Brambilla

The worldwide spread of a new coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) since December 2019 has posed a severe threat to individuals’ well-being. While the world at large is waiting that the released vaccines immunize most citizens, public health experts suggest that, in the meantime, it is only through behavior change that the spread of COVID-19 can be controlled.

Importantly, the required behaviors are aimed not only at safeguarding one’s own health. Instead, individuals are asked to adapt their behaviors to protect the community at large. This raises the question of which social concerns and moral principles make people willing to do so.

In order to examine this issue, we collected data in 23 countries: Argentina (N = 260), Australia (N = 303), Bangladesh (N = 304), Bosnia (N = 238), Chile (N = 319), China (N = 397), Finland (N = 300), France (N = 239), Germany (N = 352), Greece (N = 299), Ireland (N = 316), Italy (N = 350), Malaysia (N = 179), Netherlands (N = 320), Poland (N = 314), Romania (N = 381), Russia (N = 317), South Korea (N = 130), Spain (N = 320), Switzerland (N = 351), Turkey (N = 300), UK (N = 300), and US (N = 359). The total sample comprised 6,948 participants (3,806 women, 2,785 men, 85 non-binary or other, 272 missing; Mage = 34.22, SDage = 15.13) who were recruited using convenience sampling by distributing the survey on social networking sites, and/or via Prolific Academic. All the data are available in a public repository.

We considered individuals’ willingness to engage in prescribed and discretionary behaviors, as well as country-level and individual-level factors that might drive such behavioral intentions. Results from multilevel multiple regressions, with country as the nesting variable, showed that publicized number of infections were not significantly related to individual intentions to comply with the prescribed measures and intentions to engage in discretionary prosocial behaviors. Instead, psychological differences in terms of trust in government, citizens, and in particular toward science predicted individuals’ behavioral intentions across countries. The more people endorsed moral principles of fairness and care (vs. loyalty and authority), the more they were inclined to report trust in science, which, in turn, statistically predicted prescribed and discretionary behavioral intentions. Results have implications for the type of intervention and public communication strategies that should be most effective to induce the behavioral changes that are needed to control the COVID-19 outbreak.

Scientific output:
Pagliaro S, Sacchi S, Pacilli MG, Brambilla M, Lionetti F, Bettache K, et al. (2021). Trust predicts COVID-19 prescribed and discretionary behavioral intentions in 23 countries. PLoS ONE 16(3): e0248334.

Data availability:

Although the grant has been formally attributed to Stefano Pagliaro, it is the result of a collaborative work involving the following researchers / co-authors: Simona Sacchi, Maria Giuseppina Pacilli, Marco Brambilla, Francesca Lionetti, Karim Bettache, Mauro Bianchi, Marco Biella, Virginie Bonnot, Mihaela Boza, Fabrizio Butera, Suzan Ceylan-Batur, Kristy Chong, Tatiana Chopova, Charlie R. Crimston, Belén Álvarez, Isabel Cuadrado, Naomi Ellemers, Magdalena Formanowicz, Verena Graupmann, Theofilos Gkinopoulos, Evelyn Hye Kyung Jeong, Inga Jasinskaja-Lahti, Jolanda Jetten, Muhib Bin Kabir, Yanhui Mao, Christine McCoy, Farah Mehnaz, Anca Minescu, David Sirlopú, Andrej Simić, Giovanni A. Travaglino, Ayse K. Uskul, Cinzia Zanetti, Anna Zinn, Elena Zubieta.