A new study, released in Scientific Reports in Nature, found behavioural responses to pandemics are more shaped by perceived risk than actual mortality or hospitalisation risk.
Using mobility data, standard activities such as visiting parks, grocery shopping, visiting residential homes and using public transport were compared to analyse activity levels pre-COVID-19, at the declaration of the pandemic, and during the pandemic.
Co-author of the paper and Behavioural Economist at the University of Newcastle, Associate Professor David Savage, said the results showed that risk-taking attitudes are a critical factor in predicting reductions in human mobility and social confinement around the world.
The study found regions with risk-averse attitudes, such as Florida which has a high retiree population, were more likely to adjust their activities in response to the declaration of a pandemic, even before official government lockdown.
Click here to read the paper.