A significant challenge in the United States' response to COVID-19 continues to be wide variation in the extent to which individuals believe the virus is a credible health threat and are willing to undertake measures to protect personal and public health . In this study, data were collected from a national sample of 1141 participants from the United States to examine how beliefs and behavioral responses to COVID-19 have been shaped by sociopolitical characteristics . The relationships between social predictors; perceived severity, knowledge, and fear of the virus; and health behaviors were tested using path analysis . Social characteristics significantly predicted perceived severity, knowledge, and fear, as well as health behaviors, even after controlling for an objective indicator of the risk of contracting the virus . Our findings suggest that perceptions and knowledge of the virus, especially believing that the virus poses a serious threat to one's individual health, are important determinants of behavior, but also that perceptions and knowledge are strongly driven by social and cultural factors above and beyond political affiliation.