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Comparative Optimism, Self-Superiority, Egocentric Impact Perception and Health Information Seeking: A COVID-19 Study

  • Hoorens, Vera; 12151;
  • Scambler, Sasha;
  • Deschrijver, Eliane;
  • Coulson, Neil S;
  • Speed, Ewen;
  • Asimakopoulou, Koula;
Publication Date
Jan 01, 2022
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We examined perceived self-other differences (self-uniqueness) in appraisals of one's risk of an infectious disease (COVID-19), one's adherence to behavioural precautionary measures against the disease, and the impact of these measures on one's life. We also examined the relationship of self-uniqueness with information seeking and trust in sources of information about the disease. We administered an online survey to a community sample (N = 8696) of Dutch-speaking individuals, mainly in Belgium and The Netherlands, during the first lockdown (late April-Mid June 2020). As a group, participants reported that they were less likely to get infected or infect others or to suffer severe outcomes than average (unrealistic optimism) and that they adhered better than average to behavioural precautionary measures (illusory superiority). Except for participants below 25, who reported that they were affected more than average by these measures (egocentric impact bias), participants also generally reported that they were less affected than average (allocentric impact bias). Individual differences in self-uniqueness were associated with differences in the number of information sources being used and trust on these sources. Higher comparative optimism for infection, self-superiority, and allocentric impact perception were associated with information being sought from fewer sources; higher self-superiority and egocentric impact perception were associated with lower trust. We discuss implications for health communication. / status: published

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