‘Skin in the Game:’ Social Goals Implementation Intentions Increase Intentions to Comply with COVID-19 Preventive Measures

Jais Adam-Troian*, Sylvain Delouvée, Eric Bonetto

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Despite the proven effectiveness of COVID-19 preventive measures (social distancing, frequent hand washing, vaccination, etc.), these remain inoperative if individuals do not adopt them. In this research, we sought to investigate the effectiveness of a novel type of intervention to foster compliance with COVID-19 preventive measures. Drawing upon the model of action phases and recent evidence linking social motives to compliance with recommendations from health authorities, we extended implementation intentions to the realm of social goals (Social Goals Implementation Intentions, or SGII). In a first study in France (N = 161), we show that a brief writing task requiring participants to implement a future hypothetical encounter with a close one at risk for severe symptoms of COVID-19 increased compliance intentions by 6.38% 95%CI[1.56, 11.24], d = .42, relative to a deliberation-only control condition. No moderating role of conspiracy beliefs and mentality was found in exploratory analyses. These results were exactly replicated in a pre-registered study conducted among US participants (N = 223), where the increase caused by SGII was 7.18% 95%CI[2.10, 12.27], d = .40. Vaccine intentions were not affected in both countries. Taken together, our results suggest that SGII is a viable theoretical mechanism to design and implement health behavior change interventions. Generating a sense of ‘skin in the game’ may be more effective to bypass irrational beliefs and foster greater adherence to evidence-based health recommendations.
Original languageEnglish
Article number9
JournalInternational Review of Social Psychology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2024


  • compliance
  • COVID-19
  • implementation intentions
  • preventive behavior
  • social goals

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology


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