Compliance with COVID-19 Mitigation Measures in the United States
General Subserie Research Paper No. 2020-03
41 Pages Posted: 1 May 2020 Last revised: 28 Aug 2021
Date Written: April 22, 2020
The COVID-19 mitigation measures require a fundamental shift in human behavior. The present study assesses what factors influence Americans to comply with the stay at home and social distancing measures. It analyzes data from an online survey, conducted on April 3, 2020, of 570 participants from 35 states that have adopted such measures. The results show that while perceptual deterrence was not associated with compliance, people actually comply less when they fear the authorities. Further, two broad processes promote compliance. First, compliance depended on people’s capacity to obey the rules, opportunity to break the rules, and self-control. As such, compliance results from their own personal abilities and the context in which they live. Second, compliance depended on people’s intrinsic motivations, including substantive moral support and social norms. This paper discusses the implications of these findings for ensuring compliance to effectively mitigate the virus.
Note: Funding: The project was self-funded through my research account at UC Irvine, School of Law.
Conflict of Interest: None of the authors have any conflicts of interest with the research in this paper.
Ethical Approval: This study was exempted from IRB approval by UC Irvine using the exempt self-determination procedure.
Keywords: COVID-19, compliance, deterrence, social norms, public health, health communication
JEL Classification: I12, k42
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation