London, Jan 21 : People are more likely to follow Covid-19 restrictions based on what their friends do, rather than their own principles, a new study suggests.
The findings indicated that the best predictor of people’s compliance to the rules was how much their close circle complied with the rules, which had an even stronger effect than people’s own approval of the rules.
“Using social media to demonstrate to your friends that you are following the rules, rather than expressing outrage at people who aren’t following them could also be a more impactful approach,” said researcher Bahar Tuncgenc from the University of Nottingham in the UK.
For the study, published in British Journal of Psychology, the research team investigated the role that social networks might play in preventing the spread of Covid-19.
The team asked people from over 100 countries how much they, and their close social circle, approved of and followed the Covid-19 rules currently in place in their area.
The researchers found that people didn’t simply follow the rules if they felt vulnerable or were personally convinced. Most diligent followers of the guidelines were those whose friends and family also followed the rules.
Close circle’s compliance had an even stronger effect than people’s own approval of the rules, the researchers said.
This discovery applied to all age groups, genders, countries and was independent of the severity of the pandemic and strength of restrictions.
The study also revealed that people who were particularly bonded to their country were more likely to stick to lockdown rules — the country was like family in this way, someone for whom one is willing to stick their neck out.
The findings also suggests that including experts in human and social behaviour is crucial when planning the next stages of the pandemic response, such as how to ensure that people comply with extended lockdowns or vaccination recommendations.
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