How the effect of trust and other factors on rule compliance changes over time during the COVID-19 crisis
Extant literature shows convincing evidence that there is a positive relationship between trust and rule compliance. This effect is seen in two different strands of research: during normal, non-crisis times and in times of crisis. There is, however, very little research that combines these different strands and traces how the relationship between trust and rule compliance changes over time, especially during a major international crisis. In this study we integrate these strands of literature, formulating hypotheses to test whether trust and other relevant drivers - fear, (rule) legitimacy, pro-socialness and observed other people’s compliance (social contagion) - impact rule compliance during the different phases of the COVID-19 pandemic. We test our hypotheses with data collected at three different moments during the COVID-19 crisis in Flanders, Belgium (Survey Wave 1, April 7, N = 207,304; Survey Wave 2, April 28, N = 108,415; Survey Wave 3, June 30; N = 25,241). Survey Wave 1 was at the peak of the crisis, with a stringent lockdown and still increasing numbers of daily infections and deaths; Survey Wave 2 was completed when the number of daily cases and deaths had reduced substantially and most physical distancing measures were still in force; while Survey Wave 3 was just before yet another relaxation of measures with low numbers of daily cases and deaths. We use regression analyses with bootstrapping to analyse the data. Our findings suggest that the impact of trust on compliance is more nuanced than hitherto found, especially during crises; and that social contagion and fear are important drivers of compliance. We suggest that Lindenberg’s Goal Framing Theory is a potential candidate to explain the dynamics of the drivers of rule compliance during a prolonged crisis like the COVID-19 pandemic and propose further research to test that hypothesis.
Source (book)
EGPA 2020 PSG VI e-conference, 3-4 September, 2020
22 p.
Research group
Publication type
Publications with a UAntwerp address
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Creation 10.11.2023
Last edited 14.11.2023
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