Predicting physical distancing over time during COVID-19: testing an integrated model

Martin S. Hagger, Stephanie R. Smith, Jacob J. Keech, Susette A. Moyers, Kyra Hamilton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Objective: We applied an integrated social cognition model to predict physical distancing behavior, a key COVID-19 preventive behavior, over a four-month period. Design: A three-wave longitudinal survey design. Methods: Australian and US residents (N = 601) completed self-report measures of social cognition constructs (attitude, subjective norm, moral norm, perceived behavioral control [PBC]), intention, habit, and physical distancing behavior on an initial occasion (T1) and on two further occasions one week (T2) and four months (T3) later. Results: A structural equation model revealed that subjective norm, moral norm, and PBC, were consistent predictors of physical distancing intention on all three occasions. Intention and habit at T1 and T2 predicted physical distancing behavior at T2 and T3, respectively. Intention at T2 mediated effects of subjective norm, moral norm, and PBC at T2 on physical distancing behavior at T3, and habit at T1 and T2 mediated effects of behavior at T1 and T2 on follow-up behavior at T2 and T3, respectively. Conclusion: Normative (subjective and moral norms) and capacity (PBC) constructs were consistent predictors of physical distancing intention, and intention and habit were consistent predictors of physical distancing behavior. Interventions promoting physical distancing should target change in normative and personal capacity beliefs, and habit. Supplemental data for this article is available online at https://doi.org/10.1080/08870446.2021.1968397.

Original languageEnglish
JournalPsychology and Health
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2021

Keywords

  • behavior change
  • habit
  • integrated models
  • Social cognition theory
  • social distancing

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