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Sensitive attitudes and adherence to recommendations during the COVID-19 pandemic: Comparing direct and indirect questioning techniques

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  • Tabea Kaufmann, University of Marburg
  • ,
  • Lau Lilleholt, University of Copenhagen
  • ,
  • Robert Böhm, University of Copenhagen, University of Vienna
  • ,
  • Ingo Zettler, University of Copenhagen
  • ,
  • Daniel W. Heck, University of Marburg

During the COVID-19 pandemic, various behavioral measures were imposed to curb the spread of the virus. In a preregistered study based on a quota-representative sample of adult Danish citizens (N = 1031), we compared the prevalence estimates of self-reported handwashing, physical distancing, and attitudes toward the behavioral measures between people surveyed with a direct and an indirect questioning approach (i.e., the crosswise model). Moreover, we investigated two possible predictors of sensitive behaviors and attitudes, namely empathy for people vulnerable to the virus and Honesty-Humility from the HEXACO Model of Personality. We also examined the interaction of both predictors with the questioning format. Survey participants reported more violation of guidelines regarding handwashing and physical distancing when asked indirectly rather than directly, whereas attitudes regarding the behavioral measures did not differ between the two questioning formats. Respondents with less empathy for people vulnerable to COVID-19 reported more violations of handwashing and physical-distancing, and those low on Honesty-Humility reported more violations of physical distancing.

Original languageEnglish
Article number111525
JournalPersonality and Individual Differences
Number of pages6
Publication statusPublished - May 2022

    Research areas

  • COVID-19, Coronavirus, Crosswise model, Empathy, HEXACO, Honesty-humility, Indirect questioning, Randomized response technique

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