Predicting attitudes toward mitigation interventions and social distancing behaviors at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States

Rachel E. Dinero, Nicole Shanguhyia, Rachel M. Hill, William Monti, Brittany L. Kmush

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Aim: The goal of this research was to assess the influence of adult attachment, personality, and cultural orientation on social distancing and attitudes toward COVID-19 mitigation interventions. Methods: Survey data was collected across two samples (NMTurk = 201, Nsnowball = 242) in the US from April 29 to May 11, 2020. Adult attachment was assessed via the Experiences in Close Relationships Scale-Short Form (ECR-S; Wei, M., Russell, D. W., Mallinckrodt, B., & Vogel, D. L. (2007). The experiences in close relationship scale (ECR)-short form: Reliability, validity, and factor structure. Journal of Personality Assessment, 88(2), 187–204), personality was assessed via the Ten Item Personality Inventory (TIPI; Gosling, S. D., Rentfrow, P. J., & Swann, W. B. (2003). A very brief measure of the Big-Five personality domains. Journal of Research in Personality, 37(6), 504–528), cultural orientation was assessed via the Horizontal and Vertical Individualism and Collectivism Scale (Triandis, H. C., & Galfand, M. J. (1998). Converging measurement of horizontal and vertical individualism and collectivism. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 74(1), 118–128), and social distancing and attitudes toward mitigation interventions were assessed via self-report measures developed for this assessment. Results: In the MTurk sample, agreeableness (β =.19) and conscientiousness (β =.26) predicted positive mitigation intervention attitudes. Agreeableness (β =.24) and vertical collectivism (β =.25) positively predicted social distancing, while attachment anxiety (β = −.32) and vertical individualism (β = −.32) negatively predicted social distancing. In our snowball sample, residing primarily in New York, openness (β =.18) and horizontal collectivism (β =.16) predicted positive intervention attitudes, while horizontal individualism (β = −.20) predicted negative attitudes. Social contact in this sample was low and not associated with predictor variables. In both samples, mitigation attitudes and social distancing were only moderately correlated. Implications: Our findings highlight the inherent inconsistency between attitudes and behaviors as well as the potential impact of mandated interventions on both attitudes and behavior.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number2247055
JournalHealth Psychology and Behavioral Medicine
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2023


  • COVID-19
  • adult attachment
  • cultural orientation
  • personality
  • social distancing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • General Psychology
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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