Predicting individuals’ behaviors during a pandemic: why we might have acted as we did during the COVID-19 pandemic
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Kuwait University, Kuwait City, Kuwait
University of Texas, Arlington, United States
Submission date: 2023-05-12
Final revision date: 2023-09-29
Acceptance date: 2023-10-25
Online publication date: 2024-03-04
Corresponding author
Shaikha S. Aldousari   

Kuwait University, Kuwait City, Kuwait
This study examined individual differences in how people behave in response to a pandemic – more specifically, the current coronavirus pandemic.

Participants and procedure:
A sample of 420 participants was recruited through the online data collection platform MTurk. Participants were directed via an online link to a Qualtrics survey. This survey was composed of several demographic questions and self-report personality and belief scales, followed by a set of outcome measures designed to measure specific behaviors relating to avoidant behavior, protective behavior, and impulsive buying which the participants might, or might not, have engaged in during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The results showed that locus of control was the best personality-related predictor of peoples’ pandemic-relevant behavior, such that externally oriented people were more likely to report both protective behavior and impulsive buying behavior. In addition, perceived threat was significantly associated with all three types of pandemic-relevant behaviors (avoidant, protective, and impulsive buying).

Individuals’ personality traits and beliefs clearly play a major role in determining their behavior during health crises. In the case of the current COVID-19 crisis, some people adopt behaviors that ensure their safety and the safety of others, whereas other people display careless behaviors that contribute to spreading the infection. Because individual differences in this situation matter, it is important to determine which variables accurately predict which behaviors.

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