A new study from the University of Kent and Leeds Beckett University found that feelings of shame and stigma at the idea of contracting Covid-19 were linked to lower respect for social distancing and the likelihood of reporting the infection to authorities and potential contacts in Italy, South Korea and the United States.
In contrast, the study found that individuals who believe their government’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic and feel mutual solidarity are more likely to report a contradiction with Covid-19 authorities and acquaintances.
In Italy and South Korea, individuals are more likely to follow social exclusion regulations if they believe their government’s response to a pandemic, while in the U.S., trust does not lead to respect for social distancing.
This could be explained by the behavior of the former administration, which emphasized the values of respect for government and the “First America” policy, while signaling contempt for scientific advice and social distancing.
Many governments around the world have responded to the Covid-19 pandemic by applying locking measures of varying intensity. To be effective, these measures must rely on citizen cooperation.
These discoveries published Limits in psychology suggest that the values of hierarchy and interdependence of governments that force people into obedience could be restored, and even make authorities less likely to seek and test new cases, while people are less likely to comply with regulations. In turn, this can negatively affect public health.
The research, led by dr. Giovanni Travaglino (Kent) et al. Chanki Moon (Leeds Beckett) points out the importance of cooperation and solidarity in explaining people’s respect for the norms of social distancing.
Dr. Travaglino said: “Our research emphasizes the importance of managing the stigma associated with Covid-19, which can undermine government efforts to control it. Governments and decision-makers can achieve better transparency and coherence by focusing on the importance of social cohesion and reliability in their efforts to combat pandemic and manage public responses. ‘
In our research, we found that the role of trust in governments and self-conscious emotions (shame and guilt) are decisive factors for respecting people of social distancing and intent to report infections to health authorities or acquaintances. When governments and decision makers enact policies and regulations regarding Covid-19, they should be aware that stigmatizing or blaming people for the infection could return. Government efforts to build confidence are likely key to overcoming the coronavirus crisis. “
Dr. Chanki Moon, Leeds Beckett University
Travaglino, G, A & Moon, C. (2021) Coherence and self-reporting during the COVID-19 pandemic: An intercultural study of trust and self-conscious emotions in the United States, Italy, and South Korea. Limits in psychology. doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2021.565845.