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People Afraid of Germs, Bugs Follow Better COVID-19 Hygiene: Study

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Coronavirus
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A study has suggested that people who are especially averse to bugs and germs adhere more strictly to the COVID-19 precautionary measures, according to an International Business Times report.

This study, published in the journal PLOS ONE, has indicated that persons who exhibit this psychological tendency towards pathogen disgust also tend to engage in more frequent washing of hands or disinfection of surfaces during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“When we feel disgusted towards something, our behavioral response is to avoid it and get away from it, but people vary in their experience of disgust.”
Natalie J. Shook, Principal Investigator of the Study
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What Was The Study?

In this study, researchers from the University of Connecticut, USA, asked participants about their degree of concern regarding the COVID-19 pandemic, and also assessed the frequency of their preventative behaviours like hand washing, disinfecting, physical distancing and mask wearing.

What Did They Find?

Germ aversion was found to have a greater association with concern over COVID-19 than some other factors like age, perceived risk, or political stance. The study also found that persons most susceptible to the virus were not necessarily those who were engaging in greater protective behaviour.

“What we found in our data set was that the most consistent predictors of concern about COVID and then engagement in preventative health behaviors are actually those psychological disease avoidance factors.” 
Natalie J. Shook, Principal Investigator of the Study

"Older participants reported more concern about COVID, which makes sense as they're at higher risk," Shook stated.

Individuals in the higher income group were found to practise more physical distancing and cleaning behaviours. The researchers suggest that this may be due to their better access to resources such as cleaning supplies, and the option to work from home.

Perceived general health and recent illnesses also determined the likelihood of various healthy behaviours. The individual motivations behind such behaviour could vary from greater awareness due to a recent illness, or to prevent spreading the infection to others.

(With inputs from International Business Times, Singapore)

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