Keep calm and stay safe: The relationship between anxiety and other psychological factors, media exposure and compliance with covid-19 regulations

Tomer Mevorach, Jonathan Cohen, Alan Apter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


The COVID-19 pandemic has led many countries to employ public health regulations to achieve behavioral change and stop the transmission of the virus. The factors influencing compliance with these regulations may differ from “classic” predictors for medical compliance. This study attempted to assess the effect of social communication and psychological factors on intention to comply. A cross-sectional online survey was conducted on healthy adults living in Israel (n = 697). The survey assessed the intention to comply with the state COVID-19 regulations and explored possible correlations with demographic and psychosocial factors. Data were collected during May 2020 using a Qualtrics online survey. Data were analyzed to find correlations between anxiety, uncertainty, media exposure and other variables and the level of intention to comply as self-reported. Moderation and mediation effects were studied by an integrative model of influencing factors. We found that media exposure change, trust in responsible agencies and anxiety were positively correlated with compliance, while uncertainty was correlated with noncompliance. The effect of media exposure on compliance had two components. First, media exposure was positively correlated with compliance. On the other hand, media exposure was positively correlated with uncertainty, and uncertainty was negatively correlated with compliance. Interestingly, anxiety, which was positively correlated with media exposure, also moderated the negative correlation between uncertainty and compliance. Our results highlight the important role of uncertainty and anxiety as moderators between media exposure and compliance. To increase public compliance with COVID-19 regulations, efforts should be directed at decreasing uncertainty and anxiety.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2852
Pages (from-to)1-13
Number of pages13
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Issue number6
StatePublished - 11 Mar 2021
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.


  • Anxiety
  • COVID-19
  • Compliance
  • Media exposure
  • Uncertainty


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