Brits were less likely than French or Italians to follow lockdown guidelines

Only 71% of Brits, Americans and other English speakers around the globe followed guidelines set by their governments during the Covid-19 lockdown, according to a new study from Durham University Business School. This was drastically lower than French and Italians – where 89% of respondents followed guidelines.

The research was conducted at the end of April 2020, the height of the global pandemic, when many countries were at the strictest stage of their lockdowns.

Sascha Kraus, Professor of Entrepreneurship at Durham University Business School, Andrés Davila, Professor at ESCE Paris, and an international team of academics research the topic to understand people’s views towards Covid-19 voluntary compliance behaviours, and who was most likely to follow these.

The researchers also found that only 70% of native English speakers were happy to take preventative steps such as wearing a mask indoors, social distancing, avoiding crowds, staying at home and washing their hands frequently.

The findings come from a survey of over 8,300 respondents from 70 countries, which was collected via the mobile phone app from Praditus.com. The interviews focused on beliefs and attitudes towards three key areas of covid-19 prevention; following government recommendations, taking health precautions (including mask wearing, social distancing, handwashing, and staying at home); and encouraging others to take health precautions too.

Professor Sascha Kraus says,

“Countries around the world have been facing extraordinary challenges in implementing various measures to slow down the spread of COVID- 19. In order for these measures to be effective, the public must comply. Many governments are lifting official restrictions, thus elevating the importance of voluntary compliance, therefore it’s important that individuals are informed about the effectiveness of wearing masks, handwashing, social distancing, and staying at home, to increase voluntary compliance with government rules and recommendations.”

Other interview respondents were German, Spanish, French and Italian native speakers. English speakers were the second least likely to follow government guidelines, second least likely to take precautionary measures, and also second least likely to advise others on guidelines and safety measures (see Figure 1).

The researchers also looked at other demographics to identify the likelihood of people following guidelines, taking health precautions and advising others. They found that women were more likely than men to be vigilant across the board, while there was no link between age and rule-following.

The researchers also reviewed people’s beliefs and characteristics, such as openness, trust in government, vulnerability and general disruptiveness. Conscientious, extraverted and open-minded people were more likely to be cautious.

This study has just been published in the journal “Global Transitions”.

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