Compliance in crisis: concern, trust and distrustful complacency in the COVID‐19 pandemic

Fanny Lalot, Dominic Abrams, Curtis Jessop, John Curtice

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1 Citation (Scopus)
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Two studies tested a distrustful complacency hypothesis, according to which either concern or political trust would be enough to sustain law‐abiding attitudes and compliance with health‐protective policies during the COVID‐19 pandemic; but the absence of both concern and trust would result in markedly lower support and compliance. Study 1 supported this hypothesis with NatCen nationally representative sample of Great Britain (N = 2413; weighted regression analyses), focussing on law‐abiding attitudes. Study 2 (preregistered) replicated these findings with a representative sample (N = 1523) investigating support for COVID‐19 policies and compliant behaviour. Participants who were less concerned about the consequences of the pandemic (for themselves and for others) and simultaneously less trustful of the government expressed weaker law‐abiding attitudes and reported less compliance with COVID‐19 restrictions. These findings have implications for policy and public health strategies in time of crisis.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere12752
JournalSocial and Personality Psychology Compass
Issue number7
Early online date16 Apr 2023
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2023


  • compliance
  • COVID‐19
  • distrustful complacency
  • health‐protective behaviour
  • pandemic
  • political trust


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