National identity predicts public health support during a global pandemic.

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Cichocka, Aleksandra  ORCID logo
Capraro, Valerio 

Changing collective behaviour and supporting non-pharmaceutical interventions is an important component in mitigating virus transmission during a pandemic. In a large international collaboration (Study 1, N = 49,968 across 67 countries), we investigated self-reported factors associated with public health behaviours (e.g., spatial distancing and stricter hygiene) and endorsed public policy interventions (e.g., closing bars and restaurants) during the early stage of the COVID-19 pandemic (April-May 2020). Respondents who reported identifying more strongly with their nation consistently reported greater engagement in public health behaviours and support for public health policies. Results were similar for representative and non-representative national samples. Study 2 (N = 42 countries) conceptually replicated the central finding using aggregate indices of national identity (obtained using the World Values Survey) and a measure of actual behaviour change during the pandemic (obtained from Google mobility reports). Higher levels of national identification prior to the pandemic predicted lower mobility during the early stage of the pandemic (r = -0.40). We discuss the potential implications of links between national identity, leadership, and public health for managing COVID-19 and future pandemics.


Funder: Research Council of Norway through its Centres of Excellence Scheme, FAIR project No 262675

Funder: J. William Fulbright Program

Funder: Institute for Lifecourse Development, University of Greenwich

Funder: Economic Social Research Council Impact Acceleration Award, University of Oxford

Funder: Institute of Social Sciences Ivo Pilar

Funder: Academy of Finland (Suomen Akatemia); doi:

Funder: Universität Wien (University of Vienna); doi:

Funder: Ministry of Science and Technology, Taiwan (Ministry of Science and Technology of Taiwan); doi:

Funder: NOMIS Stiftung (NOMIS Foundation); doi:

Funder: Princeton Graduate Student Research Funding (Program in Cognitive Science)

Funder: Corruption Laboratory on Ethics, Accountability, and the Rule of Law (CLEAR), University of Virginia

Funder: Project Pro.Co.P.E., IMT School (PAI2019)

Funder: Italian Ministry of University and Research - PRIN 2017 (20178293XT)

Funder: Gouvernement du Canada | Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (Conseil de Recherches en Sciences Naturelles et en Génie du Canada); doi:

Funder: Australian Research Council (DP180102384)

Funder: Ernst and Young (EY); doi:

Article, /692/699/255/2514, /706/689/477/2811, article
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Nat Commun
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Springer Science and Business Media LLC
John Templeton Foundation (JTF) (61378)
Narodowe Centrum Nauki (National Science Centre) (2018/29/B/HS6/02826, 2015/19/B/HS6/01253)
RCUK | Medical Research Council (MRC) (MR/P014097/1)
Gouvernement du Canada | Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (Conseil de recherches en sciences humaines du Canada) (130760, SSHRC-506547, SSHRC-506547, SSHRC-506547, 435-2012-1135)
Agentúra na Podporu Výskumu a Vývoja (Slovak Research and Development Agency) (APVV-17-0596, APVV-17-0596)
Austrian Science Fund (Fonds zur Förderung der Wissenschaftlichen Forschung) (I3381, I3381)
Aarhus Universitets Forskningsfond (Aarhus University Research Foundation) (AUFF-E-201 9-9-4, 28207)
Vetenskapsrådet (Swedish Research Council) (2018-00877)
Carlsbergfondet (Carlsberg Foundation) (CF20-0044, CF20-0044)
Ministarstvo Prosvete, Nauke i Tehnološkog Razvoja (Ministry of Education, Science and Technological Development of the Republic of Serbia) (47010)
National Natural Science Foundation of China (National Science Foundation of China) (71972065, 71602163)
RCUK | Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) (BB/R010668/1)
Agence Nationale de la Recherche (French National Research Agency) (ANR-17-EURE-0010, ANR-10-IDEX-0001-02 PSL, ANR-17-EURE-0017)
Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (German Research Foundation) (EXC 2052/1 – 390713894, EXC 2052/1 – 390713894)