Article - The effect of messaging and gender on intentions to wear a face covering to slow down COVID-19 transmission

Étude réalisée par Valerio Capraro, Middlesex University London, et Hélène Barcelo, Mathematical Science Research Institute, Berkeley, PsyArXiv, 11 mai 2020, 19 p.

Abstract

Now that various countries are or will soon be moving towards relaxing shelter-in-place rules, it is important that people use a face covering, to avoid an exponential resurgence of the spreading of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19). Adherence to this measure will be made explicitly compulsory in many places. However, since it is impossible to control each and every person in a country, it is important to complement governmental laws with behavioral interventions devised to impact people’s behavior beyond the force of law. Here we report a pre-registered online experiment (N=2,459) using a heterogenous, although not representative, sample of people living in the USA, where we test the relative effect of messages highlighting that the coronavirus is a threat to “you” vs “your family” vs “your community” vs “your country” on self-reported intentions to wear a face covering. Results show that focusing on “your community” promotes intentions to wear a face covering relative to the baseline ; the trend is the same when comparing “your community” to the other conditions, but not significant. We also conducted pre-registered analyses of gender differences on intentions to wear a face covering. We find that men less than women intend to wear a face covering, but this difference almost disappears in counties where wearing a face covering is mandatory. We also find that men less than women believe that they will be seriously affected by the coronavirus, and this partly mediates gender differences in intentions to wear a face covering (this is particularly ironic because official statistics actually show that men are affected by the COVID-19 more seriously than women). Finally, we also find gender differences in self-reported negative emotions felt when wearing a face covering. Men more than women agree that wearing a face covering is shameful, not cool, a sign of weakness, and a stigma ; and these gender differences also mediate gender differences in intentions to wear a face covering.

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