Using social and behavioural science to support COVID-19 pandemic response

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The COVID-19 pandemic represents one of the greatest public health crises of the last century, affecting more than 20 million people from over 200 countries around the world. Until a vaccine or effective medical treatment is developed, the public response to the pandemic is largely limited to policy-making and collective behaviour change. In this regard, techniques from social and behavioural science can be useful to promote pandemic response and mitigate COVID-19 transmission (Van Bavel et al. 2020a).

In this talk, I will review some recent research devoted to exploring what kind of messages and appeals are more effective at promoting pandemic response. I will focus on the effect of norm-based messages (Bilancini et al. 2020), on messages highlighting that the coronavirus is a threat to people’s community (Capraro & Barcelo, 2020a), and on messages promoting intuitive vs deliberative decision making (Capraro & Barcelo, 2020b). I will also talk about gender differences (Capraro & Barcelo, 2020a) and the effect of nationalism (Van Bavel et al. 2020b).

Keywords: COVID-19, decision making