Politicization of COVID-19 health-protective behaviors in the United States: Longitudinal and cross-national evidence

Wolfgang Stroebe, Michelle R. van Dellen, Georgios Abakoumkin, Edward P. Lemay, William M. Schiavone, Maximilian Agostini, Jocelyn J. Bélanger, Ben Gützkow, Jannis Kreienkamp, Anne Margit Reitsema, Jamilah Hanum Abdul Khaiyom, Vjolica Ahmedi, Handan Akkas, Carlos A. Almenara, Mohsin Atta, Sabahat Cigdem Bagci, Sima Basel, Edona Berisha Kida, Allan B. I. Bernardo, Nicholas R. ButtrickPhatthanakit Chobthamkit, Hoon-Seok Choi, Mioara Cristea, Sára Csaba, Kaja Damnjanović, Ivan Danyliuk, Arobindu Dash, Daniela Di Santo, Karen M. Douglas, Violeta Enea, Daiane Gracieli Faller, Gavan Fitzsimons, Alexandra Gheorghiu, Ángel Gómez, Ali Hamaidia, Qing Han, Mai Helmy, Joevarian Hudiyana, Bertus F. Jeronimus, Ding-Yu Jiang, Veljko Jovanović, Željka Kamenov, Anna Kende, Shian-Ling Keng, Tra Thi Thanh Kieu, Yasin Koc, Kamila Kovyazina, Inna Kozytska, Joshua Krause, Arie W. Kruglanksi, Anton Kurapov, Maja Kutlaca, Nóra Anna Lantos, Cokorda Bagus Jaya Lemsmana, Winnifred R. Louis, Adrian Lueders, Najma Iqbal Malik, Anton Martinez, Kira O. McCabe, Jasmina Mehulić, Mirra Noor Milla, Idris Mohammed, Erica Molinario, Manuel Moyano, Hayat Muhammad, Silvana Mula, Hamdi Muluk, Solomiia Myroniuk, Reza Najafi, Claudia F. Nisa, Boglárka Nyúl, Paul A. O'Keefe, Jose Javier Olivas Osuna, Evgeny N. Osin, Joonha Park, Gennaro Pica, Antonio Pierro, Jonas Rees, Elena Resta, Marika Rullo, Michelle K. Ryan, Adil Samekin, Pekka Santtila, Edyta Sasin, Birga M. Schumpe, Heyla A. Selim, Michael Vicente Stanton, Samiah Sultana, Robbie M. Sutton, Eleftheria Tseliou, Akira Utsugi, Jolien Anne van Breen, Caspar J. van Lissa, Kees van Veen, Alexandra Vázquez, Robin Wollast, Victoria Wai-Lan Yeung, Somayeh Zand, Iris Lav Žeželj, Bang Zheng, Andreas Zick, Claudia Zúñiga, N. Pontus Leander

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Abstract

During the initial phase of the COVID-19 pandemic, U.S. conservative politicians and the media downplayed the risk of both contracting COVID-19 and the effectiveness of recommended health behaviors. Health behavior theories suggest perceived vulnerability to a health threat and perceived effectiveness of recommended health-protective behaviors determine motivation to follow recommendations. Accordingly, we predicted that-as a result of politicization of the pandemic-politically conservative Americans would be less likely to enact recommended health-protective behaviors. In two longitudinal studies of U.S. residents, political conservatism was inversely associated with perceived health risk and adoption of health-protective behaviors over time. The effects of political orientation on health-protective behaviors were mediated by perceived risk of infection, perceived severity of infection, and perceived effectiveness of the health-protective behaviors. In a global cross-national analysis, effects were stronger in the U.S. (N = 10,923) than in an international sample (total N = 51,986), highlighting the increased and overt politicization of health behaviors in the U.S.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0256740
JournalPLoS ONE
Volume16
Issue number10
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 20 Oct 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General

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