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Sailer, Michael ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-6831-5429; Stadler, Matthias ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-8241-8723; Botes, Elouise ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0003-4952-8386; Fischer, Frank ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0003-0253-659X and Greiff, Samuel ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0003-2900-3734 (14. April 2021): Science knowledge and trust in medicine affect individuals' behavior in pandemic crises. In: European Journal of Psychology of Education [PDF, 376kB]


In pandemic crises such as the COVID-19 pandemic, individuals' behavior has a strong impact on epidemiological processes. Compliance with prevention guidelines, such as social distancing, is critical to avoid further spreading an infectious disease or to slow down its spread. However, some individuals also or instead engage in panic behavior, such as hoarding. We investigate how education prepares individuals to respond adequately by modelling the path from seeking information about COVID-19 to eventual behavior. Based on a sample of Nþinspace=þinspace1182 adult Americans, gathered at the pandemic's onset (March 2020), we conclude that science knowledge helps individuals convert information into coronavirus knowledge. This knowledge then helps individuals avoid panic behavior. Individuals lacking coronavirus knowledge and science knowledge still comply with prevention guidelines when they have a general trust in medicine. Individuals lacking knowledge still follow prevention guidelines when they trust in medicine. Facilitating science knowledge and trust in science through education and targeted public health messaging are likely to be of fundamental importance for bringing crises such as the COVID-19 pandemic under control.

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