Disease Avoidance Motives Trade-Off Against Social Motives, Especially Mate-Seeking, to Predict Social Distancing: Evidence From the COVID-19 Pandemic

Pelin Gul*, Nils Keesmekers, Pinar Elmas, Fatma Ebru Köse, Tolga Koskun, Arnaud Wisman, Tom R. Kupfer

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)
27 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

A range of studies have sought to understand why people’s compliance with social distancing varied during the COVID-19 pandemic. Recent theory suggests that pathogen avoidance behavior is based not only on perceived risk but on a trade-off between the perceived costs of pathogen exposure and the perceived benefits of social contact. We hypothesized that compliance with social distancing may therefore be explained by a trade-off between pathogen avoidance and various social motives such as mate-seeking. Two studies conducted during the COVID-19 pandemic showed that social distancing was positively associated with disease avoidance motives but negatively associated with social motives, especially mating motives. These associations remained after controlling for predictors identified by previous research, including risk perception and personality. Findings indicate that people who are more interested in seeking new romantic partners (e.g., young men) may be less inclined to socially distance and be more at risk of pathogen transmission.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1281-1293
JournalSocial Psychological and Personality Science
Volume13
Issue number8
Early online date3 Oct 2021
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2022

Keywords

  • COVID-19
  • disease avoidance
  • infectious disease prevention
  • mate-seeking
  • social distancing
  • UT-Hybrid-D

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