Eichenberg et al. (2021): The Relationship Between the Implementation of Statutory Preventative Measures, Perceived Susceptibility of COVID-19, and Personality Traits in the Initial Stage of Corona-Related Lockdown: A German and Austrian Population Online Survey


Back­ground: Par­ti­cu­larly during the early and middle sta­ges of the COVID-19 pan­de­mic, a population’s com­p­li­ance with pre­cau­tio­nary mea­su­res (e.g., hygiene rules, smart working, tra­vel restric­tions, and qua­ran­tine) is para­mount in preven­ting the virus from sprea­ding.

Objec­tive: The inves­ti­ga­tion and docu­men­ta­tion of dif­fe­rent socio-demographic and personality-specific fac­tors in regards to preven­ta­tive mea­su­res and con­se­quent spe­ci­fic health beha­vi­ors during the COVID-19 pan­de­mic, based on the Health Belief Model.

Method: An online sur­vey was con­duc­ted on N = 3,006 indi­vi­du­als living in Ger­many and Aus­tria during the early sta­ges of lock­down. The ques­ti­on­naire con­sis­ted of a self-administered sec­tion, explo­ring the dimen­si­ons posi­ted in the Health Belief Model: per­cei­ved seve­rity, per­cei­ved sus­cep­ti­bi­lity, per­cei­ved bar­ri­ers, per­cei­ved bene­fits of health-promoting mea­su­res, and enga­ge­ment in health-promoting beha­vi­ors. Addi­tio­nally, the fol­lo­wing stan­dar­di­zed sca­les were used to record per­so­na­lity deter­mi­nants: the Stress Coping Style Ques­ti­on­naire SVF 78 to eva­luate coping and pro­ces­sing stra­te­gies in stress­ful cir­cum­stan­ces, the Posi­tive and Nega­tive Affect Sche­dule (PANAS) to assess the emo­tio­nal state indu­ced by the coro­na­vi­rus cri­sis, the UI-18 scale to dia­gnose the into­lerance of uncer­tainty, and the State-Trait Anxiety Inven­tory (STAI) to assess anxiety.

Results: In line with the Health Belief model, four groups were crea­ted based on per­cei­ved sus­cep­ti­bi­lity and enga­ge­ment in health-promoting beha­vi­ors, and con­se­quently stu­died in rela­tion to per­so­na­lity deter­mi­nants. Those four groups dif­fe­red signi­fi­cantly in regards to almost all per­so­na­lity dimen­si­ons (p ≤ 0.005). Group 1 (n = 450) shows a redu­ced enga­ge­ment with pro­tec­tive mea­su­res and dis­plays unde­re­sti­ma­tion of the COVID-19-pandemic. Group 2 (n = 984) dis­plays many posi­tive per­so­na­lity varia­bles and high com­p­li­ance with pro­tec­tive mea­su­res. Group 3 (n = 468) per­cei­ves the sub­jec­tive risk of disease as high, but high emo­tio­nal dis­com­fort and stress cau­sed by the pro­tec­tive mea­su­res leads to the activa­tion of a com­plex fear defense. Group 4 (n = 1,004) is highly anxious and the­re­fore com­p­li­ant.

Con­clu­si­ons: This typi­fi­ca­tion has impli­ca­ti­ons for esta­blis­hing the appro­priate sup­port sys­tems. This is par­ti­cu­larly important to encou­rage com­p­li­ance with preven­tive regu­la­ti­ons wit­hin the groups, which showed poor abidance for several rea­sons. For Group 1, fur­ther edu­ca­tion on the rea­li­s­tic threat and effi­ci­ent pro­tec­tive mea­su­res is as cen­tral as the fos­te­ring of empa­thy for others; with its resource-conscious exem­plary beha­vior Group 2 could be used as a posi­tive social role model. Group 3 would bene­fit from pro­mo­ting self-care, while Group 4 requi­res infor­ma­tion on psy­cho­so­cial assis­tance avail­a­bi­lity in order to miti­gate the high stress to which the group mem­bers are sub­jec­ted.

Read full paper

Eichen­berg, C., Gross­furth­ner, M., And­rich, J., Hüb­ner, L., Kietaibl, S., & Holocher-Benetka, S. (2019). The Rela­ti­ons­hip Bet­ween the Imple­men­ta­tion of Sta­tu­tory Preven­ta­tive Mea­su­res, Per­cei­ved Sus­cep­ti­bi­lity of COVID-19, and Per­so­na­lity Traits in the Initial Stage of Corona-Related Lock­down: A Ger­man and Aus­trian Popu­la­tion Online Sur­vey. Front. Psych­ia­try, 12, 596281. DOI: 10.3389/fpsyt.2021.596281