Motivating Protective Behavior against COVID-19: Fear vs. Hope | Munich Center for the Economics of Aging - MEA
SHARE - Research

Motivating Protective Behavior against COVID-19: Fear vs. Hope

Objectives: Based on Protection Motivation Theory, we investigate how indicators of threat perception (perceived severity, perceived vulnerability, fear arousal) and coping appraisal (hope) are associated with older people’s motivation to engage in protective behavior after the outbreak of COVID-19.

Methods: We use multivariate regression analyses with a sample of 40,282 individuals from 26 countries participating in the SHARE Corona Survey.

Results: We find that 15 percent of all respondents stayed home completely—mainly the oldest and vulnerable people with prior health risk conditions. On average, older Europeans responded strongly to the recommended protective behavior measures (6 out of 7 measures adopted). Among the threat perception indicators, fear arousal is the main motivator for protective behavior, whereas the coping appraisal indicator hope shows an equally strong association.

Discussion: Given the negative health effects of fear, our findings may help evaluate and revise governmental policy responses and communication strategies.

Contact Person(s)

Dr. Gregor Sand