Why People Comply, or not, with Social Distancing Rules
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Why People Comply, or not, with Social Distancing Rules

PAMELA GIUSTINELLI AND A COLLEAGUE FROM UCL WANT TO UNDERSTAND THE PERCEIVED COSTS AND BENEFITS OF THE COVID19 LOCKDOWN FOR COMMON PEOPLE IN THE UK, THE US AND ITALY

Simple nudges by governments have proved not to be particularly effective in inducing people to comply with social distancing measures imposed in almost every country of the world. Pamela Giustinelli (Bocconi Department of Economics) and Gabriella Conti (University College London) want to better understand the perceived costs and benefits of social distancing measures for people with different backgrounds, in order to design appropriate incentives to compliance.
 
The two scholars have designed a questionnaire that investigates expectations about important aspects of everyday life, work, health, and well-being under various social distance scenarios to learn about the perceived costs of social isolation. «The study», Prof. Giustinelli says, «will provide insight into the trade-offs individuals face when deciding whether or not (or to what extent) to adopt social isolation measures, and will provide an estimate of the incentives required to accept being socially isolated».
 
The questionnaire, with minor adaptation to local social distancing measures, will be tested on the MTurk platform and, then, used in the UK, the US, and Italy.
 
The project leverages on recent advances in the design and analysis of conditional expectations questions, and asks people to answer specifically designed questions about their perceived probability of contracting the coronavirus, and of subsequently falling ill with COVID-19, being hospitalized and fined in case of non-compliance under different social distancing scenarios in order to learn about the perceived benefits of social distancing and compliance behavior (through reduced risk). An important feature of the study is that the questionnaires will not be delivered on social media, as in most of the current investigations on coronavirus perceptions, but will make use of already existing samples, to ensure representativeness and to follow them up over time.
 
«We expect to record a certain degree of heterogeneity both in awareness and preferences», Prof. Giustinelli explains, «and to understand how people perceive and solve the trade-offs they are facing, depending on their knowledge, beliefs and preferences».

by Fabio Todesco

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