Prosociality and hoarding amid the COVID-19 pandemic: a tale of four countries

Dwight C. K. Tse, Vienne W. Lau, Ying-yi Hong, Michelle C. Bligh, Maria Kakarika

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The COVID-19 pandemic is an unprecedented public health crisis that poses a challenge to humanity. Drawing on the stress and coping literature, we argue that people around the world alleviate their anxiety and stress induced by the pandemic through both prosocial and 'self-interested' hoarding behaviours. This cross-cultural survey study examined the pushing (threat perception) and pulling (moral identity) factors that predicted prosocial acts and hoarding, and subsequently psychological well-being. Data were collected from 9 April to 14 May 2020 from 251 participants in the United Kingdom (UK), 268 in the United States (US), 197 in Germany (DE), and 200 in Hong Kong (HK). Whereas threat perception was associated positively with both prosocial acts and hoarding, benevolent moral identity was associated positively with the former but not the latter behaviour. We also observed cross-cultural differences, such that both effects were stronger in more individualistic (UK, US) countries than less individualistic (HK, DE) ones. The findings shed light on the prosocial vs. self-interested behavioural responses of people in different cultures towards the same pandemic crisis.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Community and Applied Social Psychology
Early online date5 Apr 2021
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 5 Apr 2021


  • panic buying
  • stockpiling
  • donation
  • stress and coping
  • moral identity
  • psychological well-being

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