Compliance with governmental restrictions during the coronavirus pandemic: A matter of personal self-protection or solidarity with people in risk groups?
Br. j. soc. psychol
During the coronavirus pandemic, governments across the globe ordered physical-distancing and hygiene restrictions to slow down the spread of COVID-19. The present work was conducted during the peak of restrictions in Germany (April/May 2020). In a convenient (N = 218) and representative sample (N = 715), we examined people's motivations to comply with these restrictions during the lockdown: Were they motivated by personal self-protection, or rather by solidarity with people in risk groups? Specifically, we investigated predictors of personal self-protection (compliance to protect the self against infection) and group-protection behaviours (compliance for reasons of solidarity in protecting people in risk groups). Results indicate that self- and group-protection result from different psychological processes: Whereas personal self-protection seems to be a form of coping with personal anxieties (epistemic and existential needs, personal threat), group protection is an intergroup phenomenon that is enabled by identification with a collective goal (common identity), the perception that society is capable of dealing with the virus (group efficacy), and concern for people in risk groups. We discuss potential implications for behavioural change in pandemics.