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Promoting social distancing in a pandemic: Beyond the good intentions

Paolo Falco and Sarah Zaccagni

No a2nys, OSF Preprints from Center for Open Science

Abstract: Reminders to promote social distancing have been ubiquitous throughout the COVID-19 crisis, but little is known about their effectiveness. We conducted a randomised trial in Denmark at the peak of the crisis to test different versions of a reminder to stay home. We measure impacts on both intentions to comply and subsequent actions (subjects reporting having stayed home in a follow-up survey). We find that reminders increase intentions to comply when they emphasise the consequences of non-compliance for the subjects themselves or their families. They have no impact when the emphasis is on other people or the country as a whole. Changes in intentions, however, do not translate into significant changes in actions (despite the possibility that self-reported compliance may be overstated). Compliance only increases among people in poor health. This shows that reminders can protect groups at risk by increasing their own distancing, but have lower impacts on those who are not in immediate danger and could spread the disease.

Date: 2020-05-07
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-exp, nep-hea and nep-soc
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DOI: 10.31219/

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