Date of Award

Fall 5-11-2021

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts - Psychology



First Advisor

Dr. James Schaeffer

Second Advisor

Dr. Sarah Savoy

Third Advisor

Dr. Mark Ludorf

Fourth Advisor

Dr. Keith Hubbard



Adherence to COVID-19 preventing measures is becoming increasingly important as governments across the world realize COVID-19 is not an acute, but a chronic problem. There is, however, disagreement over to what extent COVID-19 is a problem. In the United States, the division appears to be primarily along party lines (Democrat and Republican[1]), though even within parties there is division. This division might be explained by differences in: the behavioral immune system and trust in government. Additional factors to examine include: personality, fear of COVID-19, and religious beliefs. The present study used previously validated self-report measures to assess where respondents fell on the factors mentioned above. Additionally, a self-report measure was created to assess beliefs about and frequency of behaviors aimed at reducing the spread of COVID-19. The first hypothesis was that Republicans in the United States would report that they perform fewer preventative behaviors than Democrats report. The second hypothesis was that there would be an interaction between political party and trust in government. It was predicted that Republicans would show a more negative relationship between trust in government and COVID-19 preventing behaviors than Democrats. The third hypothesis was that there would be an interaction between political party and perceived vulnerability to disease. It was

predicted that Republicans would show a more positive relationship between perceived vulnerability to disease and COVID-19 preventing behavior than Democrats. The fourth hypothesis was that an exploratory factor analysis would reveal clusters of related variables predictive of COVID-19 preventing behaviors. Hypothesis one was tested using a two-tailed point-biserial correlation, α = 0.05. Hypotheses two and three were tested using moderated linear regressions. Hypothesis four was examined using an exploratory factor analysis with a Scree plot to determine which factors contribute meaningfully to a model predicting COVID-19 preventing behaviors. Understanding the relationships between the behavioral immune system, trust in government, personality, fear of COVID-19, religious beliefs, and COVID-19 preventing behaviors may help tailor governmental responses to future pandemics, based off of how people are responding to COVID-19 at the time of writing, to improve adherence to preventative behaviors in the future.

[1] Given the synonymous use of Republican/conservative and Democrat/liberal in the USA, and because it gives a greater ability to generalize the results of the present study beyond the USA, the present review has drawn on literature looking at Republican/Democrat and conservative/liberal throughout, but for the analyses political orientation is operationally defined as Republican/Democrat.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.



Tell us how this article helped you.


To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.