Boldness Personality Traits Are Associated With Reduced Risk Perceptions and Adoption of Protective Behaviors During the First COVID-19 Outbreak

The containment measures imposed during the first COVID-19 outbreak required economic, social, and behavioral changes to minimize the spread of the coronavirus. Some studies have focused on how personality predicts distinct patterns of adherence to protective measures with psychopathic and antisocial traits predicting reduced engagement in such measures. In this study we extended previous findings by analyzing how boldness, meanness, and disinhibition psychopathic traits relate with both risk perceptions and protective behaviors during the first COVID-19 outbreak. A sample of 194 individuals (24% male) engaged in the survey, were assessed for psychopathic traits with the Triarchic Psychopathy Measure, and completed a COVID-19 survey targeting risk perceptions (spread, risk of becoming infected, state anxiety toward the COVID-19, and perceived risk of specific behaviors) and frequency of protective behaviors (e.g., not engaging in social distancing). Overall results show that boldness predicts reduced estimate of COVID-19 spread, reduced perceived risk of becoming infected, reduced state anxiety toward COVID-19, and reduced frequency of protective behaviors. Exploratory mediation models suggest that risk perceptions are not significant mediators of the association between psychopathic traits and reduced engagement in protective behaviors. Our results unveil that psychopathic traits affect risk perceptions and the propensity to engage in protective measures, emphasizing the need to accommodate these personality features in the public health strategy to control the COVID-19 spread.

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