Germans adhere to corona measures primarily for reasons of self-protection and not out of solidarity. At least that is what a new study by scientists from the Institute for Psychology at the University of Bamberg shows. The results of the study were published in the journal for psychology “Comprehensive Results in Social Psychology”.
It is quite plausible that some protective measures are implemented more strongly than others, primarily due to fines. The researchers Johannes Leder, Alexander Pastukhov and Astrid Schütz now wanted to find out why certain protective measures are perceived by citizens as particularly effective and therefore voluntarily followed.
To do this, the scientists carried out a random sample in the form of two large-scale online surveys. In the first, 419 participants were interviewed during the lockdown in March 2020. The second survey took place after the lockdown in May and July 2020 with 253 participants. The respondents rated 17 different protective measures, such as wearing mouth and nose protection or social distancing. The results of the two surveys were then evaluated.
Even prosocial people are mostly concerned with their own protection
It turned out that the behavior of 92 percent of the participants in view of the measures was pro-social. “Prosocial people cooperate with others and try to find a fair solution,” explains first author Johannes Leder. “The opposite are self-oriented people who act selfishly.”
However, the scientists were surprised that even the prosocial participants prioritized their own protection and not the protection of others.
The survey also showed that personal experiences in particular influence compliance with the measures. Many people who knew of a poor course or a recovery from Covid-19 in their acquaintance, adhered less to the measures. In contrast, people who had lost someone to illness, for example, followed it.
Since the first lockdown was lifted, many people no longer adhere to the protective measures
Regardless of this, almost all of the participants in the sample would have adhered to measures such as social distancing more strongly at the beginning of the lockdown. After the lockdown, many found distance measures in particular to be less effective and therefore no longer followed them. According to Leder, keeping your distance and social distancing are crucial in order to prevent infections.
Leder summarized the findings of the study as follows: “People are motivated to implement measures that above all protect themselves and are inexpensive (…).” For example, wearing face masks or washing hands.
So it could be helpful if politics and the health service would emphasize the self-protection aspect more. Scientists believe that if it was made clear that protecting others would also protect them, more people would abide by the measures.