COVID-19 vulnerability and perceived norm violations predict loss of social trust: A pre-post study

Sergio Lo Iacono*, Wojtek Przepiorka, Vincent Buskens, Rense Corten, Arnout van de Rijt

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

While pandemic containment measures benefit public health, they may jeopardize the social structure of society. We hypothesize that lockdowns and prolonged social distancing measures hinder social support and invite norm violations, eroding social trust. We conducted a pre-registered pre-post study on a representative sample of the Dutch population (n = 2377; participation rate = 88.8%), measuring social trust reported by the same individuals before and after the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. Results show that social trust in the Netherlands suddenly dropped from its historically stable level, reaching one of its lowest points on record. The decline was stronger among residents belonging to official high-risk categories, especially if they perceived themselves as likely to become infected. Individuals who more strongly agreed with self-isolation norms or did not perceive a widespread compliance or agreement with such norms also reported a greater loss of trust.

Original languageEnglish
Article number114513
Pages (from-to)1-6
JournalSocial Science and Medicine
Volume291
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2021

Keywords

  • COVID-19
  • Normative expectations
  • Social norms
  • Social trust
  • Vulnerability

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