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Keep your (social) distance: Pathogen concerns and social perception in the time of COVID-19

AuthorsOlivera-La Rosa, Antonio; Chuquichambi, Erick G.; Ingram, Gordon P. D.
Disgust sensitivity
Pathogen avoidance
Social anxiety
Social perception
Issue Date16-Jun-2020
PublisherElsevier BV
CitationPersonality and Individual Differences 166: 110200 (2020)
AbstractPrevious research suggests that individual differences in pathogen disgust sensitivity and social anxiety predict avoidance behavior, especially of pathogen cues, and reduced tolerance for social ambiguity. Conversely, generalized social trust is associated with approach behavior and a greater tolerance for social ambiguity. We conducted an online study (N = 1078) to test these predictions in the context of the COVID-19 global pandemic. Specifically, we assessed whether individual differences in pathogen disgust sensitivity, social anxiety and generalized social trust predicted judgments of trustworthiness, desired social distance and perceptions of sickness of target faces wearing surgical masks. Our results showed that (a) high sensitivity to pathogen disgust predicted lower judgments of trustworthiness and lower social desirability; (b) high social anxiety predicted higher perceptions of illness and lower judgments of trustworthiness; and (c) generalized social trust predicted higher judgments of trustworthiness and lower perceptions of illness of target faces. Further, we found that mask wearers were perceived as more likely to be ill, more trustworthy and more socially desirable than the same faces presented to a control group, without the surgical mask superimposed. Results are discussed in terms of perceived compliance with an emerging social norm overriding the intrinsic mistrustfulness of masked faces.
Publisher version (URL)https://doi.org/10.1016/j.paid.2020.110200
Appears in Collections:(IFISC) Artículos
(VICYT) Colección Especial COVID-19
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