What is it about?

The early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic revealed stark regional variation in the spread of the virus. While previous research has highlighted the impact of regional differences in sociodemographic and economic factors, we argue that regional differences in social and compliance behaviors—the very behaviors through which the virus is transmitted—are critical drivers of the spread of COVID-19, particularly in the early stages of the pandemic. Combining self-reported personality data that capture individual differences in these behaviors (3.5 million people) with COVID-19 prevalence and mortality rates as well as behavioral mobility observations (29 million people) in the United States and Germany, we show that regional personality differences can help explain the early transmission of COVID-19; this is true even after controlling for a wide array of important sociodemographic, economic, and pandemic-related factors.

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Why is it important?

Cross-regional variation in COVID-19 cases continues to characterize the pandemic even as nationwide vaccination campaigns have been rolled out. Understanding the drivers of these geographical discrepancies is critical given that pandemic-related policy decisions, regulations, and interventions are implemented at the geographical level (e.g., countries, states, cities, and counties).

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This page is a summary of: Regional personality differences predict variation in early COVID-19 infections and mobility patterns indicative of social distancing., Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, September 2022, American Psychological Association (APA),
DOI: 10.1037/pspp0000439.
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