Analyzing Risk Perception and Social Influence Effects on Self-Restriction Behavior in Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic in Japan: First Results
30 Pages Posted: 4 Jun 2020 Last revised: 15 Jun 2020
Date Written: June 4, 2020
This article analyzes factors affecting individuals’ decisions to alter their behavior in light of the COVID-19 pandemic in the context of non-binding self-restriction requests in Japan. In particular, this study focuses on risk perception and social influence effects. A panel web-survey was conducted targeting residents of the Kanto Region, including the Tokyo Metropolitan Area. In addition to describing the observed patterns in behavioral change, we modeled behavioral changes of four key, non-work-related activities: (i) grocery shopping, (ii) other types of shopping, (iii) eating out, and (iv) leisure. For eating-out and leisure the distinction was made between going alone or in groups. Based on the observed distributions of these activities, regression models of going-out-behavior were estimated for shopping, while for eating-out and leisure, which showed considerably smaller frequencies, a discrete choice approach was used. Findings showed that as a measure of social influence, the perception of going-out self-restriction by others was consistently associated with reductions in activity levels across all activity types. In addition, dread of COVID-19 was also found to affect behavior, but its effect was only significant for discretionary activities such as eating-out and leisure. In light of these findings, information campaigns to promote stay-at-home behavior might be more effective if they appeal to the group, rather than the individual, and emphasize the behavior, or at least the perception of behavior of others.
Keywords: COVID-19, self-restriction, social influence, risk perception, travel behavior
JEL Classification: R41
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation