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Following the crowd in times of crisis: Descriptive norms predict physical distancing, stockpiling, and prosocial behavior during the COVID-19 pandemic

Universität Koblenz-Landau; Universität Mannheim

This study provides answers to the most important questions about fighting the pandemic: How do you motivate people to continue to adhere to protective measures or to get vaccinated?

  • Disziplin: Sozial, Psychologie
  • Forschungsmethode: Quantitativ
  • Forschungsdesign: Primärerhebung, Offene Befragung (selbstselektiert)
  • Erhebungsstatus: Erhebung abgeschlossen, Ergebnisse veröffentlicht, Daten zugänglich

Ziele der Studie

Vaccination: yes or no? Wear a mask: yes or no? How people can be further motivated to comply with protective measures and to vaccinate in the face of increasing pandemic fatigue is the question of the time. A research team from the universities in Landau and Mannheim has examined which psychological factors predict the behavior of people in the corona pandemic.

The researchers investigated, in a longitudinal study, whether descriptive social norms regarding physical distancing, stockpiling, as well as prosocial behavior predict individuals’ respective behaviors a few weeks later.


A longitudinal survey study with two measurement points was conducted. The study started on March 26, 2020, 4 days after the German government had imposed nation-wide rules making physical distancing mandatory (e.g., no meetings of more than two people from different households, requirement to keep a minimum distance of 1.5 meters in public).

The survey was advertised as a study on psychological consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic. The researchers used a snowball sampling strategy to reach a high number of participants over a short time period. As a starting point, the survey was distributed via occupational and recreational mailing lists, as well as regional and occupational Facebook groups by members of the research team. Members of these mailing lists and Facebook groups were asked to share the study link within their own social networks. Requirements for participation were a minimum age of 15 years and residing in Germany at the time of the survey. The first measurement point was between March 26 and April 2, 2020. Participants were invited via email to participate in the second measurement wave between April 16 and April 23, 2020.


The data can be downloaded via the following link: https://osf.io/tsaeh/