Behind closed doors: Protective social behavior during the COVID-19 pandemic

General Information

Behind closed doors: Protective social behavior during the COVID-19 pandemic
Kyla Thomas , Peter G. Szilagyi, Sitaram Vangala, Rebecca N. Dudovitz, Megha D. Shah, Nathalie Vizueta, Arie Kapteyn
Publication Type
Journal paper
PLoS One
The success of personal non-pharmaceutical interventions as a public health strategy requires a high level of compliance from individuals in private social settings. Strategies to increase compliance in these hard-to-reach settings depend upon a comprehensive understanding of the patterns and predictors of protective social behavior. Social cognitive models of protective behavior emphasize the contribution of individual-level factors while social-ecological models emphasize the contribution of environmental factors. This study draws on 28 waves of survey data from the Understanding Coronavirus in America survey to measure patterns of adherence to two protective social behaviors–private social-distancing behavior and private masking behavior–during the COVID-19 pandemic and to assess the role individual and environmental factors play in predicting adherence. Results show that patterns of adherence fall into three categories marked by high, moderate, and low levels of adherence, with just under half of respondents exhibiting a high level of adherence. Health beliefs emerge as the single strongest predictor of adherence. All other environmental and individual-level predictors have relatively poor predictive power or primarily indirect effects.