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      Acceptance and Adoption of Protective Measures During the COVID-19 Pandemic: The Role of Trust in Politics and Trust in Science


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          The United Nations have described the outbreak of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) as the worst global crisis since the second world war. Behavioral protective measures, such as good hand hygiene and social distancing, may strongly affect infection and fatality rates worldwide. In two studies (total N = 962), we aimed to identify central predictors of acceptance and adoption of protective measures, including sociodemographic variables, risk perception, and trust. We found that men and younger participants show lower acceptance and adoption of protective measures, suggesting that it is crucial to develop targeted health messages for these groups. Moreover, trust in politics and trust in science emerged as important predictors for the acceptance and adoption of protective measures. These results show that maintaining and ideally strengthening trust in politics and trust in science might be central for overcoming the COVID-19 pandemic.


          • The COVID-19 pandemic has led to unprecedented personal, social, and economic costs worldwide.

          • A better understanding of the acceptance and adoption of protective measures is crucial.

          • Trust in politics and trust in science emerged as important predictors of protective measures.

          • Implications for effective health and science communication are derived.

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          Most cited references33

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          An Integrative Model Of Organizational Trust

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            Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) in Italy

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              Demographic and attitudinal determinants of protective behaviours during a pandemic: A review

              Purpose. A new strain of H1N1 influenza, also known as swine flu was confirmed in the UK in May 2009 and has spread to over 100 countries around the world causing the World Health Organization to declare a global flu pandemic. The primary objectives of this review are to identify the key demographic and attitudinal determinants of three types of protective behaviour during a pandemic: preventive, avoidant, and management of illness behaviours, in order to describe conceptual frameworks in which to better understand these behaviours and to inform future communications and interventions in the current outbreak of swine flu and subsequent influenza pandemics. Methods. Web of Science and PubMed databases were searched for references to papers on severe acute respiratory syndrome, avian influenza/flu, H5N1, swine influenza/flu, H1N1, and pandemics. Forward searching of the identified references was also carried out. In addition, references were gleaned from an expert panel of the Behaviour and Communications sub‐group of the UK Scientific Pandemic Influenza Advisory Group. Papers were included if they reported associations between demographic factors, attitudes, and a behavioural measure (reported, intended, or actual behaviour). Results. Twenty‐six papers were identified that met the study inclusion criteria. The studies were of variable quality and most lacked an explicit theoretical framework. Most were cross‐sectional in design and therefore not predictive over time. The research shows that there are demographic differences in behaviour: being older, female and more educated, or non‐White, is associated with a higher chance of adopting the behaviours. There is evidence that greater levels of perceived susceptibility to and perceived severity of the diseases and greater belief in the effectiveness of recommended behaviours to protect against the disease are important predictors of behaviour. There is also evidence that greater levels of state anxiety and greater trust in authorities are associated with behaviour. Conclusions. The findings from this review can be broadly explained by theories of health behaviour. However, theoretically driven prospective studies are required to further clarify the relationship between demographic factors, attitudes, and behaviour. The findings suggest that intervention studies and communication strategies should focus on particular demographic groups and on raising levels of perceived threat of the pandemic disease and belief in the effectiveness of measures designed to protect against it.

                Author and article information

                Soc Psychol Bull
                Social Psychological Bulletin
                Soc. Psychol. Bull.
                23 December 2020
                : 15
                : 4
                : e4315
                [a ]Social Cognition Center Cologne, University of Cologne , Cologne, Germany
                [2]Social Behavior Research Center, Wroclaw Faculty of Psychology, SWPS University of Social Sciences and Humanities, Wrocław, Poland
                [3]Department of Psychology, University of Essex, Colchester, United Kingdom
                [4]Faculty of Psychology, SWPS University of Social Sciences and Humanities, Warsaw, Poland
                Author notes
                [* ]Social Cognition Center Cologne, University of Cologne, Richard-Strauss-Str. 2, 50931 Cologne, Germany. simone.dohle@ 123456uni-koeln.de

                This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) 4.0 License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

                : 11 September 2020
                : 05 November 2020
                Self URI (journal-page): https://journals.psychopen.eu/
                Research Article
                This article is part of the SPB Special Issue “Psychosocial Functioning During the COVID-19 Pandemic”, Guest Editors: Katarzyna Cantarero, Olga Białobrzeska, & Wijnand A. P. van Tilburg, Social Psychological Bulletin, 15(4), https://spb.psychopen.eu

                COVID-19,health communication,protective measures,trust
                COVID-19, health communication, protective measures, trust


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