A new study co-authored by researchers at the University of Waterloo shows that social conservatives who are prone to boredom are less likely to follow COVID-19 public health rules.
“Many public-health measures such as wearing a mask or getting a vaccine have become highly politicized,” stated James Danckert, professor of psychology at the University of Waterloo.
People who find these measures a threat to their identity, and who suffer from boredom a lot, find breaking the rules helps them re-establish a sense of meaning and identity. Boredom threatens our need to make meaning out of life and some things such as politics can strengthen our sense of identity and meaning.”
Waterloo said the study asked over 900 respondents a wide range of questions about topics such as boredom and political ideology as well as following recommended social distancing rules like wearing a mask and maintaining a bubble.
Researchers then used statistical analysis techniques to examine the relations between the answers and boredom, political choices and following best health practices that have been established during the pandemic.
The school said that while boredom has previously been linked to an inability to follow social-distancing rules, its research showed an increased likelihood of participants’ social conservatism.
The school says the research will help shape public health policy in the future with one example suggesting it would be better for public health to focus on what one can do and one cannot do.
“Many of the restrictions have become heavily politicized and much of the messaging from governments has focused on personal responsibility,” Danckert said.
“But this can become finger-pointing and blaming and most of us recoil from that. What we need is to promote our shared values — the things we all have in common and the positive things we can get back if we all pull together.”
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