The citizens who are most concerned about the coronavirus are those of the United Kingdom, above that of Italy or Spain, while that of South Korea is the least concerned about the pandemic.
This is reflected in a study on public attitudes developed by experts from the University of Cambridge from population samples from European, American and Asian countries, published on Tuesday by the Journal of Risk Research.
The researchers analyzed between mid-April and May the responses of 6,991 respondents in 10 countries on the risks presented by COVID-19 and the different approaches taken by their respective authorities to curb the pandemic.
In this sense, they evaluated the perception of risk by combining the ratings given by the subjects regarding the level of prevalence of the virus, its degree of fatal threat and how worried they were about this crisis.
They also set out to identify some of the key psychological factors behind people’s concerns.
“Without pharmaceutical treatment, we depend on people to change their attitudes to stop this pandemic. Willingness to adopt protective behaviors, such as frequent handwashing or physical distance, is likely influenced, in part, by the degree of risk that people award the virus, “explains Sander van der Linden, director of the Cambridge Social Decision Making Laboratory.
In his opinion, this study provides “the first comparative evidence” on how citizens perceive “around the world the threat” of COVID-19.
The investigation indicated that, after the British, the Spanish citizenship is the one that is “most concerned” about the coronavirus, while the American is in third position.
They are followed by the citizenships of Germany, Sweden, Australia and Japan, although the authors point out that the differences between them are smaller, even in the case of the Scandinavian country, where its government has been much less strict with confinement measures.
Experts describe as “surprise” the attitude of the Italians surveyed, eighth on the list ahead of Mexicans and South Koreans, despite the fact that the transalpine country is among the most punished.
However, they point out that there are few differences between the attitudes shown by the citizens of each country and confirm that the general perception of the risk of the coronavirus is “high” in all of them.
By sex, men are less concerned than women, despite the fact that COVID-19 appears to be more dangerous among those infected than among those infected.
The authors also detected in nine of the 10 countries examined that the so-called “pro-sociability”, which they define as the importance that a society attaches to developing actions that benefit others, is related to a “greater concern about the virus”.
In fact, they highlight, “pro-sociability” was confirmed as one of the most important psychological factors in “the perception of risk at the international level”.
“Appealing to pro-social motives can be important in solving social dilemmas during pandemics. For example, applauding our caregivers helps us to publicly signal pro-social intentions through shared feelings and the spread of positive emotions,” says Claudia Schneider. , co-author of the study.
In contrast, the so-called “individualistic worldview”, built, among others, on the belief that the authorities meddle too much in the private sphere, is related to “lower levels of concern about the virus.”
This view of the world, experts say, appears to be more ingrained in “certain states” of the United States, but it also has a great influence on the perception of coronavirus risk in other countries, such as Germany, Sweden, Spain, Japan and the United Kingdom. United.
Employees of gas stations, supermarkets, laundries, home delivery or mechanics, the Hispanic community occupies many of the key positions that allow the United States to continue operating at its worst.
Political ideology, they point out, is less significant in forming perceptions of the general threat of the pandemic, although the “more conservative” positions are related to lower levels of concern in the United Kingdom and the United States.
“Governments are asking people to stay home and leave their jobs in order to protect their societies. It is important that we understand how people react to information and instructions they receive about the virus,” concludes Alexandra Freeman, director of the Cambridge Winton Center for Risk and Evidence Communication.