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

Wolfgang STROEBE*, Michelle VANDELLEN, Georgios ABAKOUMKIN, Edward Jr. LEMAY, William SCHIAVONE, Maximilian AGOSTINI, Jocelyn J. BÉLANGER, Ben GÜTZKOW, Jannis KREIENKAMP, Anne Margit REITSEMA, Jamilah Hanum ABDUL KHAIYOM, Vjollca AHMEDI, Handan AKKAS, Carlos A. ALMENARA, Anita KELLER, Mohsin ATTA, Sabahat Cigdem BAGCI, Sima BASEL, Edona Berisha KIDA, Allan B. I. BERNARDONicholas R. BUTTRICK, Phatthanakit CHOBTHAMKIT, Hoon-Seok CHOI, Mioara CRISTEA, Sára CSABA, Kaja DAMNJANOVIC, Ivan DANYLIUK, Arobindu DASH, Daniela DI SANTO, Karen M. DOUGLAS, Violeta ENEA, Daiane G. Faller, Gavan FITZSIMONS, Alexandra GHEORGHIU, Ángel GÓMEZ, Qing HAN, Mai HELMY, Joevarian HUDIYANA, Bertus F JERONIMUS, Ding-Yu JIANG, Veljko JOVANOVIC, Zeljka KAMENOV, Anna KENDE, Shian-Ling KENG, Tra Thi Thanh KIEU, Yasin KOC, Kamila KOVYAZINA, Inna KOZYTSKA, Joshua KRAUSE, Arie W. KRUGLANSKI, Anton KURAPOV, Maja KUTLACA, Nóra Anna LANTOS, Cokorda Bagus Java LESMANA, Winnifred R. LOUIS, Adrian LUEDERS, Najma Iqbal MALIK, Anton MARTINEZ, Kira O. McCABE, Jasmina MEHULIC, 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 Anna 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 M. 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 VAZQUEZ, Robin WOLLAST, Wai Lan Victoria YEUNG, Somayeh ZAND, Iris Lav ŽEŽELJ, Bang ZHENG, Andreas ZICK, Claudia ZÚÑIGA, N. Pontus LEANDER*

*Corresponding author for this work

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

4 Citations (Scopus)

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 number0256740
JournalPLoS ONE
Volume16
Issue number10
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 20 Oct 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research received support from the New York University Abu Dhabi (VCDSF/75-71015) to J.N., the University of Groningen (Sustainable Society & Ubbo Emmius Fund) to N.P.L., and the Instituto de Salud Carlos III (COV20/00086) co-funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF ?A way to make Europe? to M.M. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 Public Library of Science. All rights reserved.

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