The role of values in coping with health and economic threats of COVID-19

Edward P. Jr LEMAY*, Arie W. KRUGLANSKI, Erica MOLINARIO, Maximilian AGOSTINI, Jocelyn J. BELANGER, Ben GUTZKOW, Jannis KREIENKAMP, Anne Margit REITSEMA, Michelle R. VAN DELLEN, PsyCorona Study, Wai Lan Victoria YEUNG, N. Pontus LEANDER

*Corresponding author for this work

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

10 Citations (Scopus)


The current research examined the role of values in guiding people’s responses to COVID-19. Results from an international study involving 115 countries (N = 61,490) suggest that health and economic threats of COVID-19 evoke different values, with implications for controlling and coping with the pandemic. Specifically, health threats predicted prioritization of communal values related to caring for others and belonging, whereas economic threats predicted prioritization of agentic values focused on competition and achievement. Concurrently and over time, prioritizing communal values over agentic values was associated with enactment of prevention behaviors that reduce virus transmission, motivations to help others suffering from the pandemic, and positive attitudes toward outgroup members. These results, which were generally consistent across individual and national levels of analysis, suggest that COVID-19 threats may indirectly shape important responses to the pandemic through their influence on people’s prioritization of communion and agency. Theoretical and practical implications are discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)755-772
JournalJournal of Social Psychology
Early online date24 Dec 2021
Publication statusPublished - 2023

Bibliographical note

[Prof. Victoria Wai-lan Yeung is a member PsyCorona Collaboration.]

This research received support from the New York University Abu Dhabi (VCDSF/75-71015), the University of Groningen (Sustainable Society & Ubbo Emmius Fund), the Instituto de Salud Carlos III (COV20/00086), and co-funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), “A way to make Europe.” This study complies with ethical regulations for research on human subjects, as approved by the Ethics Committee of Psychology at the University of Groningen (protocol PSY-1920-S-0390) and the Institutional Review Board at New York University Abu Dhabi (protocol HRPP-2020-42).


  • Values
  • disease
  • COVID-19
  • prosocial behavior
  • prejudice


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