Determinants of protective behaviours during a nationwide lockdown in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Without pharmaceutical measures available, endorsement of protective behaviours, such as hygiene behaviours, social distancing, and adherence to recommended behaviours in case of symptoms is of key importance to curb the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Based on an extended version of the protection motivation theory, this study examined the role of perceived risks to oneself and to others, self-efficacy, response efficacy, and perceived social norms for intentions to and the endorsement of several protective behaviours and alternative behaviours known to be ineffective. Further, it was hypothesised that effects of risk perceptions depended on high levels of self-efficacy.Data were collected by telephone at the beginning of the lockdown in Switzerland with a large sample (N = 1,009) representative of the adult Swiss population.All predictors (self-efficacy, response efficacy, perceived social norms, intentions) but risk perceptions were assessed for hygiene behaviours, social distancing, adherence to recommended behaviours in case of symptoms, and alternative measures known to be ineffective.Across all analyses of intentions for and endorsement of protective and alternative behaviours, response efficacy and self-efficacy emerged as the most important predictors. Social norms were mainly related to intentions, but not to behaviours. The different risk perceptions were rarely and inconsistently related to intentions and behaviours. No consistent pattern of interactions between self-efficacy and risk perceptions emerged.This study demonstrates that even in the face of a pandemic of an unknown virus, the resources (self-efficacy, response efficacy) rather than the risk perceptions have the potential to promote protective behaviours.

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Authors: Urte Scholz, Alexandra M Freund