Cooperation and Trust Across Societies During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Angelo ROMANO*, Giuliana SPADARO, Daniel BALLIET, Caspar VAN LISSA, Shuxian JIN, Maximilian AGOSTINI, Ben GÜTZKOW, Jannis KREIENKAMP, PsyCorona Study, Wai Lan Victoria YEUNG, N. Pontus LEANDER

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)peer-review

43 Citations (Scopus)


Cross-societal differences in cooperation and trust among strangers in the provision of public goods may be key to understanding how societies are managing the COVID-19 pandemic. We report a survey conducted across 41 societies between March and May 2020 (N=34,526), and test pre-registered hypotheses about how cross-societal differences in cooperation and trust relate to prosocial COVID-19 responses (e.g., social distancing), stringency of policies, and support for behavioral regulations (e.g., mandatory quarantine). We further tested whether cross-societal variation in institutions and ecologies theorized to impact cooperation were associated with prosocial COVID-19 responses, including institutional quality, religiosity, and historical prevalence of pathogens. We found substantial variation across societies in
prosocial COVID-19 responses, stringency of policies, and support for behavioral regulations. However, we found no consistent evidence to support the idea that cross-societal variation in cooperation and trust among strangers is associated with these outcomes related to the COVID-19 pandemic. These results were replicated with another independent cross-cultural COVID-19 dataset (N=112,136), and in both snowball and representative samples. We discuss implications of our results, including challenging the assumption that managing the COVID-19 pandemic across societies is best modeled as a public goods dilemma.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)622-642
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Cross-Cultural Psychology
Issue number7
Early online date13 Apr 2021
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The author(s) disclosed receipt of the following financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article: This research received support from the New York University Abu Dhabi (VCDSF/75-71015), the University of Groningen (Sustainable Society & Ubbo Emmius Fund), and the Instituto de Salud Carlos III (COV20/00086). Data are available upon request.

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2021.


  • COVID-19
  • cooperation
  • culture
  • institutions
  • social dilemmas
  • trust


Dive into the research topics of 'Cooperation and Trust Across Societies During the COVID-19 Pandemic'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this