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University of Silesia in Katowice

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National identity and the pandemic

31.01.2022 - 10:49 update 08.02.2022 - 12:49
Editors: violettakulik

Publication by Mariola Paruzel-Czachura, PhD in Nature Communications

Mariola Paruzel-Czachura, PhD from the Institute of Psychology of the University of Silesia, and her co-workers have published an article on who more often follows the regulations on public health during the COVID-19 pandemic. The scientists have shown that national identity contributes to greater involvement in behaviours for the protection of public health, such as wearing face masks and social distancing, and support for the public health policy. The research that has made it to the prestigious Nature Communication magazine suggests that national identity plays a significant and positive role in the fight against the pandemic.


The researchers aimed their research at national identity, which measures how strongly people identify with their country of origin, and national narcissism, which is a form of national identity connected with the belief that one’s certain group (in this instance, a nation) is exceptional and undervalued by others. In the case of fighting against the coronavirus pandemic, national identity appears to be a key factor of involvement in behaviours protecting from the coronavirus spread. Additionally, the researchers have discovered that national narcissism is positively connected with self-evaluation of physical hygiene and support for the policies preventing COVID-19. However, these effects were significantly lower than the ones concerning national identity.


In their research, the scientists have surveyed nearly 50,000 respondents from 67 countries on to what degree they accepted the measures regarding public health (e.g. social distancing and more strict rules for hygiene) and supported measures of public policy (e.g. closing bars and restaurants) in the early phase of the pandemic (April-May 2020). The survey also queried their political beliefs (e.g. left-wing or right-wing) and measured the level of national identity and national narcissism in the surveyors. All in all (among all researched countries), the respondents that declared stronger identification with their nation reported stronger involvement in behaviours contributing to public health and support for public health policies. Interestingly, contrary to the left-wing ideology, the right-wing ideology had a positive and moderate correlation with both national identity and national narcissism but a very weak correlation with the support for public health measures. According to the scientists, it may suggest that political ideology might be relatively irrelevant for predicting public health behaviours outside the United States. In order to better understand whether the surveyed people declarations reflect their factual actions, the team carried out the second international research. In this case, the team have used two public collections of data: one from the World Values Survey, which explores people’s values and beliefs, how they change over time, and what social and political impact they have; the other from the COVID-19 Google Community Mobility Reports, which indicate the changes in people’s physical mobility in answer to the COVID-19. The scientists have developed an index of national identification with the use of two elements from the World Value Survey (i.e. national pride and closeness to one’s nation) and the index of physical mobility through averaging a society’s movement within all available places (i.e. retailing and recreation, groceries and pharmacies, parks, transit stations, employing establishment and estates). Later, they examined whether countries with a higher average of national identity before the pandemic manifested a greater decrease in mobility after the COVID-19 pandemic spread all around the world in April and May 2020. According to the results of the first research, national identity was connected with a decreased spatial mobility, which might suggest that people of stronger national identity were following the guidelines of public health and restricted their movement and thereby limited physical interactions with others.

The article: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41467-021-27668-9

About the article on the Nature blog: https://socialsciences.nature.com/posts/an-international-investigation-of-the-psychology-of-covid-19

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