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Giving Compass' Take:
• Melissa De Witte recaps a recent report on reasons why certain demographics have resisted social distancing regulations.
• How can we peaceably reinforce the importance of social distancing?
• Learn more about your role in supporting those who have experienced loss from the global pandemic.
A new study reveals reasons why people may not have followed early recommendations to limit physical contact with others.
Researchers conducted a survey between March 14-23, the period when health officials first introduced shelter-in-place orders in some parts of the United States.
Their data, reported in a non-peer reviewed, preprint paper on medRxiv, show that the most common reasons for noncompliance included work requirements from non-essential businesses, mental and physical health concerns, and beliefs that other precautions offered protection.
They also found that young people—aged between 18 to 31-years-old—had the lowest compliance rate at 52.4%, compared to other age groups.
The most common reason for failing to social distance was work requirements for non-essential industries (28.2%). One respondent told the researchers, “Work is not canceled, if I don’t go, I’ll lose my job.”
Another frequent explanation for not following orders included worries about mental and physical well-being. Some 20.3% said they engaged in social, physical, or routine activities to manage unease from sheltering in place, such as “cabin fever.”
As one respondent said, “Staying in my home 24 hours of every day is depressing.” Another emphasized, “I have to get outside now and then for my own sanity.”
Other rationales that people cited for failure to comply with social distancing included the belief that other precautions, such as only hand-washing, were sufficient (18.8%). Some 13.9% of people said they wanted to continue everyday activities and 12.7% believed that society is overreacting.
“Clearly different parts of the population have different kinds of concerns and reasons for not social distancing, and government communication should address those,” says coauthor Jeff Hancock, a professor of communication in the School of Humanities and Sciences.
Read the full article about social distancing by Melissa De Witte at Futurity.