Italians are more likely to wear masks than Brits or Americans
As the news of wearing a face covering in shops in England becomes mandatory from 24 July (with a fine of £100 for those who fail to comply) a new study shows that native English speakers are less likely to obey. A unique behavioral study based on native language rather than age or sex.
Brits, Americans and other English speakers are some of the least likely to wear face masks and social distance to combat the spread of Covid-19, according to new research from Durham University Business School. The only native speakers, researched by the academics, less likely to follow health precautions are German speakers.
The research was conducted by Sascha Kraus, Professor of Entrepreneurship at Durham University Business School, alongside an international team of academics. The researchers wanted to understand the predictors of COVID-19 voluntary compliance behaviours, and which native speakers were most likely to follow these.
They conducted a survey of over 8,300 respondents from 70 countries across the world, interviewing respondents via the online platform “Praditus”. The interviews focused on beliefs and attitudes towards three key areas of covid-19 prevention; following government recommendations, taking health precautions (including mask wearing, social distancing, hand washing, and staying at home); and encouraging others to take health precautions too.
Interestingly, the researchers found that Italian and French speakers were most likely to follow their own government’s guidelines and recommendations, whilst Spanish and English speakers were much less likely to stick to the rules.
In terms of specifically taking health precautions such as mask wearing, social distancing, avoiding large crowds, and hand washing, Mandarin and Italian speakers were most likely to be actively cautious, whilst English and German speakers were least likely to go the extra mile to be careful.
And, in terms of informing and encouraging others to comply with precautions, Mandarin and Portuguese speakers were most likely to do so, whilst German and English speakers were least likely to advise others.
Professor Sascha Kraus says, “Countries around the world are facing extraordinary challenges in implementing various measures to slow down the spread of Covid-19. In order for these measures to be effective, the public must comply with these rules and recommendations. Many governments are lifting official restrictions, thus elevating the importance of voluntary compliance, therefore it’s important that individuals are informed about the effectiveness of wearing masks, hand washing, social distancing, and staying at home, to increase voluntary compliance with government rules and recommendations.”
The researchers also looked at other demographics to identify the likelihood of people following guidelines, taking health precautions and advising others. They found that women were more likely than men to be vigilant across the board, while there was no link between age and rule-following.
The researchers also reviewed people’s beliefs and characteristics, such as openness, trust in government, how vulnerable they are and their general disruptiveness. They found that compliance with the rules was closely linked to the belief that the measures were effective and protected health, and people’s personality traits had a strong influence on whether they were cautious. Conscientious, extroverted and open-minded people were more likely to be so.
This study, just published in the journal “Global Transitions”, is particularly relevant globally, given the easing of lockdown across many countries meaning that countries’ governments are becoming more reliant on people following all the guidelines set out, advising each other on these, and also being as cautious as possible in terms of mask wearing, social distancing etc., to stop another mass spread of the virus.
Many European countries have already implemented mandatory face masks in shops at the beginning of their lockdowns, however the research is particularly pertinent for the UK, given the mandatory wearing of masks in shops, set to be implemented following 24th July.
The research article can be viewed or requested via this link: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S258979182