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Individual and collective responsibility within the context of the covid-19 pandemic

Magdalena Bobowik, Utrecht University and Universitat Pompeu Fabra; Mirjana Rupar and Maciej Sekerdej, Jagiellonian University; Elia Soler Pastor, Universitat Pompeu Fabra; Maitane Arnoso, Universidad del País Vasco; Djouaria Ghilani, Free University of Brussels; Foroogh Ghorbani and Silvia Mari, University of Milano-Bicocca; Borja Martinovic, Utrecht University
Project selected in the Call to support research projects on the social impact of covid-19

Within the current context of the worldwide health pandemic, the concepts of individual responsibility and collective responsibility may help to understand some of the negative consequences of covid-19. To fight the pandemic, identifying the psychological factors that may influence citizens’ behaviours and attitudes is fundamental, since part of the success of the health and social measures being applied within this context depends upon them. The study on which this article is based evaluates to what degree feeling a sense of responsibility for one’s own health and that of one’s nearest and dearest, in comparison with feeling a sense of responsibility for the health of other people, whether those of the local or the global community, is related to public health practices or agreement with healthcare and social policies, among others. These practices and attitudes help to fight against the pandemic; among other measures, by maintaining safety distances or complying with the imposed health rules and restrictions on mobility.
Key points
  • 1
       Eight out of every ten people in Spain feel responsible for avoiding catching covid-19, or for protecting their loved ones from catching it, but less with regard to protecting other people in their local or global community catching it.
  • 2
       People with a greater sense of individual responsibility, oriented toward their own health and that of their loved ones, are those who most adhere to preventive behaviours, such as hygiene measures or social distancing.
  • 3
       People with a greater sense of collective responsibility, geared towards other people in the local and global community, are those who show the greatest solidarity towards others in times of pandemic. Many of these people share relevant information with others or participate in community care networks.
  • 4
       Individual responsibility is associated more closely with being in agreement with restrictive political measures (such as limited mobility), whereas only collective responsibility is associated with prosocial behaviour.
  • 5
       In general, citizens are in agreement with basic structural measures (such as subsidies or universal basic income) to mitigate the impact of the pandemic.
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