Compliance with COVID-19 Social-Distancing Measures in Italy: The Role of Expectations and Duration
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We study how intentions to comply with the self-isolation restrictions introduced in Italy to mitigate the COVID-19 epidemic respond to the length of their possible extension. Based on a survey of a representative sample of Italian residents (N=894), we find that respondents are more likely to express the intention to reduce, and less willing to increase their self-isolation effort if negatively surprised by a given hypothetical extension, i.e. if the extension is longer than what they expected. These intentions are stronger among respondents who reported high compliance with the isolation prescriptions. In a context where individual compliance has collective benefits, but full enforcement is costly and controversial, communication and persuasion have a fundamental role. Our findings provide insights to public authorities on how to manage people’s expectations in public health emergencies that require prolonged lockdown measures.
Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w26916