The associations of cultural worldviews, political orientation, and trust with COVID-19 risk beliefs in the U.S.

Ivy Cheng, Jennifer M. Taber, Nicolle Simonovic, Karin G. Coifman, Pooja G. Sidney, Christopher A. Was, Clarissa A. Thompson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Given that risk beliefs predict engagement in behaviors to prevent disease, it is important to understand the factors associated with risk beliefs. In the present paper, we conducted path analyses to investigate the associations of belief systems (political orientation and cultural worldviews of individualism and hierarchy) with COVID-19 risk beliefs (i.e., perceived likelihood, perceived severity, and worry about disease; Studies 1 and 2), and the indirect effect through trust in information sources in these relationships (Study 1). Two online panels of U.S. adults were surveyed at three timepoints during the COVID-19 pandemic (Study 1: baseline n = 1,667, 1-year follow-up n = 551; Study 2: n = 404). Results of path analyses indicated that, across studies and timepoints, when controlling for political orientation, trust, and demographic factors, greater individualism had consistent significant direct effects on lower perceived severity and worry about COVID-19, whereas greater hierarchy had consistent significant direct effects on lower perceived severity. However, after accounting for cultural worldviews of individualism and hierarchy (and trust and demographic factors), none of the associations among political orientation and any of the three COVID-19 risk beliefs were significant. The test of indirect effects indicated that individualism and hierarchy were indirectly associated with lower perceived severity of and worry about COVID-19 through less trust. The findings suggest that cultural worldviews of individualism and hierarchy play a role in shaping people's risk beliefs.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere12867
JournalSocial and Personality Psychology Compass
Volume17
Issue number11
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 The Authors. Social and Personality Psychology Compass published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.

Keywords

  • COVID-19
  • cultural worldviews
  • hierarchy
  • individualism
  • political orientation
  • risk beliefs
  • risk perception
  • trust
  • worry

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology

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