‘We are all in the same boat’: How societal discontent affects intention to help during the COVID-19 pandemic

Elena RESTA*, Silvana MULA, Conrad BALDNER, Daniela DI SANTO, Maximilian AGOSTINI, Jocelyn J. BELANGER, Ben GUTZKOW, Jannis KREIENKAMP, Georgios ABAKOUMKIN, Jamilah Hanum ABDUL KHAIYOM, Vjollca AHMEDI, Handan AKKAS, Carlos A. ALMENARA, Mohsin ATTA, Sabahat Cigdem BAGCI, Sima BASEL, Edona Berisha KIDA, Allan B. I. BERNARDO, Nicholas R. BUTTRICK, Phatthanakit CHOBTHAMKITHoon-Seok CHOI, Mioara CRISTEA, Sára CSABA, Kaja DAMNJANOVIC, Ivan DANYLIUK, Arobindu DASH, Karen M. DOUGLAS, Violeta ENEA, Daiane Graciele FALLER, Gavan J. FITZSIMONS, Alexandra GHEORGHIU, Ángel GÓMEZ, Ali HAMAIDIA, 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, Edward P. Jr LEMAY, 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, Hamdi MULUK, Solomiia MYRONIUK, Reza NAJAFI, Boglárka NYÚL, Claudia F. NISA, Paul A. O'KEEFE, Jose Javier Olivas OSUNA, Evgeny N. OSIN, Joonha PARK, Gennaro PICA, Antonio PIERRO, Jonas H. REES, Anne Margit REITSEMA, Marika RULLO, Michelle K. RYAN, Adil SAMEKIN, Pekka SANTTILA, Edyta SASIN, Birga M. SCHUMPE, Heyla A. SELIM, Michael Vicente STANTON, Wolfgang STROEBE, Samiah SULTANA, Robbie M. SUTTON, Eleftheria TSELIOU, Akira UTSUGI, Jolien A. VAN BREEN, Caspar J. VAN LISSA, Kees VAN VEEN, Michelle R. VAN DELLEN, Alexandra VAZQUEZ, Robin WOLLAST, Victoria Wai-lan YEUNG, Somayeh ZAND, Iris Lav ŽEŽELJ, Bang ZHENG, PsyCorona Study, Andreas ZICK, Claudia ZÚÑIGA, N. Pontus LEANDER

*Corresponding author for this work

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

6 Citations (Scopus)


The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has caused a global health crisis. Consequently, many countries have adopted restrictive measures that caused a substantial change in society. Within this framework, it is reasonable to suppose that a sentiment of societal discontent, defined as generalized concern about the precarious state of society, has arisen. Literature shows that collectively experienced situations can motivate people to help each other. Since societal discontent is conceptualized as a collective phenomenon, we argue that it could influence intention to help others, particularly those who suffer from coronavirus. Thus, in the present study, we aimed (a) to explore the relationship between societal discontent and intention to help at the individual level and (b) to investigate a possible moderating effect of societal discontent at the country level on this relationship. To fulfil our purposes, we used data collected in 42 countries (N = 61,734) from the PsyCorona Survey, a cross-national longitudinal study. Results of multilevel analysis showed that, when societal discontent is experienced by the entire community, individuals dissatisfied with society are more prone to help others. Testing the model with longitudinal data (N = 3,817) confirmed our results. Implications for those findings are discussed in relation to crisis management. Please refer to the Supplementary Material section to find this article's Community and Social Impact Statement.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)332-347
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Community and Applied Social Psychology
Issue number2
Early online date8 Oct 2021
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research received support from the New York University Abu Dhabi (VCDSF/75–71,015), the University of Groningen (Sustainable Society & Ubbo Emmius Fund) and the Instituto de Salud Carlos III (COV20/00086).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 The Authors. Journal of Community & Applied Social Psychology published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.


  • COVID-19
  • intention to help
  • societal discontent


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