This study explores what determines the selection of strategies by governments responding to COVID-19 . To answer the question, we propose concepts of individual utility and societal utility and build a simple model . By applying the model, we predict that countries with an individualist culture would adopt more passive strategies while countries with a collectivist culture would adopt more active strategies . The comparison between strategies adopted in China and in the United Kingdom supports the prediction . Furthermore, as the spread of COVID-19 virus continues, governments ’ response may change and individualist countries may switch to more active strategies . So we extend our model to incorporate the dynamics of strategy selection, and explain the switch between passive and active strategies . We then predict in particular that facing the unexpected infections and deaths, the countries with an individualist culture would temporally adopt a relatively more active strategy responding to COVID-19 . The evidence from Spain shows the dynamic feature of strategy selection as predicted by our model.