Appealing to economic (vs. health) risk may be more effective to fight COVID-19: A multilevel analysis in 24 countries

Claudia Nisa*, Jocelyn J. Belanger, Daiane Faller, Jochen Mierau, Maura Austin, Nicholas Buttrick, Birga M. Schumpe, Edyta M. Sasin, Max Agostini, Ben Gützkow, Jannis Kreienkamp, Georgios Abakoumkin, Jamilah Hanum Abdul Khaiyom, Vjollca Ahmedi, Handan Akkas, Carlos A Almenara, Mohsin Atta, S. Cigdem Bagci, Sima Basel, Nicholas ButtrickPhatthanakit Chobthamkit, Anton Kurapov, Hoon-Seok Choi, Mioara Cristea, Sara Csaba, Kaja Damnjanovic, Ivan Danyliuk, Arobindu Dash, Daniela Di Santo, Karen M. Douglas, Violeta Enea, Berisha Kida, Gavan J. Fitzsimons, Alexandra Gheorghiu, Ángel Gómez, Bertus F. Jeronimus, Joshua Krause, Arie W. Kruglanski, Maja Kutlaca, Najma Malik, Kira McCabe, Solomiia Myroniuk, Anne Margit Reitsema, Jolien Breen ,van, C. J. Van Lissa, Anne Marthe Bles, van der, Kees Veen, van, Michelle vanDellen, Bang Zheng, R. Sutton, Pontus Leander

*Corresponding author for this work

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This paper examines whether compliance with COVID-19 mitigation measures is motivated by wanting to save lives or save the economy (or both), and which implications this carries to fight the pandemic. National representative samples were collected from 24 countries (N=25,435). The main predictors were (i) perceived risk to contract coronavirus, (ii) perceived risk to suffer economic losses due to coronavirus, and (iii) their interaction effect. Individual and country-level variables were added as covariates in multilevel regression models. We examined compliance with various preventive health behaviors and support for strict containment policies. Results show that perceived economic risk consistently predicted mitigation behavior and policy support - and its effects were positive. Perceived health risk had mixed effects. Only two significant interactions between health and economic risk were identified – both positive. These results do not corroborate the view that people engage in health versus economy zero-sum thinking in the fight against COVID-19.
Original languageEnglish
JournalPsyArXiv Preprints
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 1-Jul-2020


  • Coronavirus
  • Covid-19
  • Mitigation
  • Risk
  • Health
  • economic
  • health behavior
  • motivation
  • zero-sum

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