One Hundred and Sixty-One Days in the Life of the Homopandemicus in Serbia: The Contribution of Information Credibility and Alertness in Predicting Engagement in Protective Behaviors
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COVID-19 pandemic is a long-lasting process associated with dynamic changes within society and in individual psychological responses. Effective communication of measures by credible sources throughout the epidemic is one of the crucial factors for the containment of the disease, and the official communication about pandemics is straightforwardly directed toward changes in behavior via engagement in (self-)protective measures. Calls for the adherence to these measures are aimed at the general population, but people's reactions to these calls vary depending on, for example, their individual differences in cognitive and emotional responses to the situation. The focus of our study was the general narrative about the epidemic as conveyed by both state officials and media outlets in times of decreased social contacts due to the quarantine, in which relying on these sources of information is even more pivotal. Our aim was to explore the stability of the proposed mediational model during the c...ourse of the epidemic in Serbia. In the model, we tested the relationship between perceived credibility of information (PCI) and two types of protective behavior—the actual self-protective behavior (ASPB) and the hypothetical protective behavior (HPB), as well as the potential mediating role of alertness in these relationships time-wise. A cross-sectional study (N = 10,782, female = 79.1%) was being administered daily during the first epidemic wave and in three more 2-week time frames during the second wave. Based on the variability of these measures during the first epidemic wave, three stages of psychological responses were mapped (acute, adaptation, and relaxation stage), which were observed, with some deviations, also in the second wave. The mediational model was relatively robust after the initial few weeks, but the strength of pairwise relationships was more changeable. With both types of protective behaviors, the predictive power of PCI was partially mediated through alertness. This suggests that, while individual differences in cognitive and affective responses are important, so is coherent, focused, and credible communication in all stages of the epidemic, which emphasizes the communality aspect of the social containment of the infection. Our findings can thus be valuable in informing the planning of effective future communication.
Keywords:COVID-19 / coronavirus / credinformation / alertness / self-protective behavior / protective behavior / pandemic stages / cross-sectional
Source:Frontiers in Psychology, 2021, 12, 631791-
- Frontiers Media S.A.
Funding / projects:
- Fundamental cognitive processes and functions (RS-179033)
- Identification, measurement and development of the cognitive and emotional competences important for a Europe-oriented society (RS-179018)