Personality in a pandemic: Social norms moderate associations between personality and social distancing behaviors

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To limit the transmission of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), it is important to understand the sources of social behavior for members of the general public. However, there is limited research on how basic psychological dispositions interact with social contexts to shape behaviors that help mitigate contagion risk, such as social distancing. Using a sample of 89,305 individuals from 39 countries, we show that Big Five personality traits and the social context jointly shape citizens' social distancing during the pandemic. Specifically, we observed that the association between personality traits and social distancing behaviors were attenuated as the perceived societal consensus for social distancing increased. This held even after controlling for objective features of the environment such as the level of government restrictions in place, demonstrating the importance of subjective perceptions of local norms.
Original languageEnglish
Article number110828
JournalPersonality and Individual Differences
Volume177
ISSN0191-8869
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2021

ID: 258495938