Corresponding Author Information: Benjamin Hougaard | Palo Alto University

Session Abstract: During the SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) pandemic, the United States government (both state and federal) implemented health mandates to reduce the spread. While the vast majority of individuals complied with the guidelines, some did not, citing governmental overreach or individual rights. Positive and negative affect and Big Five personality factors might explain some of the underlying causes of this defiance, but these studies appear to not have been done previously. In this study, we examined personality factors (positive and negative affect and Big Five) and compared them to self-reported adherence to government mandates and recommendations (mask wearing, handwashing, social distancing, and use of sanitizers) and compared those that reported always following mandates and those that did not in a sample of 2,142 older adults from the Health and Retirement Study COVID dataset. Using t-scores, we found that both positive and negative affect and Big Five personality characteristics had significant results. During post hoc analyses, we found that demographic variables (race, Hispanic identity, age, and gender) also differed significantly between those that always adhered and those that did not adhere. Helping individuals with high negative affect lower their score might help individuals lessen their resistance to these mandates, both in this ongoing pandemic and help with other compliance-related issues.


Benjamin Hougaard | Palo Alto University

Colby Pomeroy, LFMT | University of Southern Mississippi

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