Nottingham research finds people are more likely to follow COVID restrictions if friends do

Research suggests people are more likely to follow rules if their social circle does

A global study by a Nottingham university shows people are more motivated to follow government COVID-19 rules and restrictions if their friends and family do.

Led by the University of Nottingham, the research found people are more influenced by their social circle than their own principles.

Lead researcher, Dr Bahar Tunçgenç, from the university’s School of Psychology, said: “When coronavirus first hit the UK in March we were wondering how, in this moment of crisis, people could be brought together to comply with these drastic changes in our lives.”

The researchers asked more than 6,000 people from 114 countries how much they and their close circle approved of and followed COVID restrictions.

The research was led by the University of Nottingham

They found “the most diligent compliers were not the people who thought they could be severely damaged by the disease, but those who saw that others were also complying with the rules.”

“It’s interesting that our primary human instinct of being social and looking after others  came out very strongly.”

The researchers want the findings to change public policy and reduce the spread of COVID-19.

Rules at the University of Nottingham

Dr Tunçgenç said: “When I look at the public messaging, most of it is about how deadly the disease is… that doesn’t seem to be the main thing that motivates people to follow the rules.

“A good strategy would be for people who the public love and trust, in local communities or on a national scale, to come out and show their good behaviour.”

She also explains how individuals can encourage others to comply to restrictions: “Each one of us can show our loved ones that we are following the rules.

“It’s like practising what you preach; the more you practise, the more others see it, the more likely they are to do it as well.”

Yesterday (January 25) Newark MP and Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick announced £23.75 million funding for councils and voluntary groups to expand COVID communications with at-risk groups.

The Community Champions scheme will “share COVID-19 vaccine advice and information to boost local vaccination take-up”.

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