The public adherence strand is led by Professor Steve Reicher at the University of St Andrews. Widespread public adherence to protective measures is a crucial component in the management of COVID-19. Physical distancing, wearing face coverings in public spaces, avoiding stockpiling, and self-isolating with symptoms of COVID-19, for example, may all be vital in reducing the spread of the virus. This is particularly the case if schools, businesses, public transport, and other public spaces are to remain open.
Adherence to these measures, however, might require people to make difficult personal sacrifices. Moreover, and especially in the case of low-risk individuals, those sacrifices will need to be made in terms of both personal and collective interest., with adherence depending on the public acting collectively and for the common good. It is therefore crucial to understand how shared social identities and social norms may increase pro-social behaviour and maximise adherence to COVID-19 protective measures.
This strand of the project will collect empirical data to examine the impact of collective identification on adherence, the role of leadership in developing collective identification, and how coverage of others' positive or negative behaviours (e.g., mask-wearing vs. stockpiling) impacts shared identity, perception of social norms, and adherence to preventative measures. Our findings will have implications for how government and health authorities should communicate with the public about COVID-19, as well as understanding how the media and public figures influence adherence to protective measure guidelines.