The situation with the COVID-19 pandemic is unprecedentedly dangerous in terms of its geographical coverage, comprehensive impact on all spheres of human life, and absent clear forecasts for its future development. Understanding of this threat and self-protection with preventive behavioural strategies reduces both the likelihood of being infected and the spread of the coronavirus, which is the main purpose of the ordered quarantine. Preventive behaviour means minimized face-to-face interactions, wearing a mask in the street and public places, washing hands and using hand sanitizer, and avoiding face self-touch; the precautionary measures in Ukraine and in the most countries of the world are based on these WHO recommendations.
The data were collected from the 20th to the 24th of March 2020 with the help of Google Forms. It was the beginning of epidemic in Ukraine: the number of confirmed cases increased from 41 (March, 20th) to 102 (March, 24th), there were 3deaths (according to Worldometer). On March 11, the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine announced quarantine: restriction of mass events, quarantine in educational institutions and closing of air routes to some countries. The study involved 120 participants (42 men and 78 women, age 18 - 58 years): 96 students and 24 parents (residents of Lviv).
The study was aimed at analyzing the emotional experience and behaviour of students during COVID-19 quarantine and identifying psychological factors inducing preventive behaviour.
A special questionnaire was developed for the study. The questionnaire was consisted of four parts: 1) experiencing the threats (personal and social) in an epidemic situation; 2) adhering to preventive behaviour; 3) searching for information about the epidemic; 4) the features of routine behavior in quarantine. The used methods were: TIPI S. Gosling (Ukrainian-language version TIPI-UKR (Klimanska & Haletska, 2019), Positive and Negative Affect Questionnaire (OPANA) (Klimanska & Haletska, 2020), COPE inventory (Carver, Scheier, & Weintraub, 1989), and an associative experiment where the word «coronavirus» was the stimulus.
Coding and frequency analysis of associations were done using QDA Miner Lite 2.0.7. It was found that dominant (48.3% of all associations, 60% of the participants) was the category of negative experiences (anxiety - 14.6%, fear - 12.9%, danger - 8.9%, etc.). The second most important category was “Information” (31.7% of all associations, 40% of the respondents), and the third one was “De-awfulizing” (10.8% of associations in 14% of the respondents). 35% of the respondents had a positive vision of the future, 39% had a negative vision of the future, 14% dared not make predictions. 42% of the participants were highly concerned about the economic impact of the quarantine, 32% were about the political situation in Ukraine, and 32% were about their own financial well-being. Concerns about the economic situation in Ukraine were even greater than concerns about one’s own financial situation. Adult respondents were more concerned with their financial well-being than with their own lives.
The adhering to preventive behaviour was high enough: 48% of the students tried not to leave their home at all, more than 78% often washed their hands and actively used hand sanitizer, 49% controlled themselves not to touch their faces, 30% of the students said they always or almost always wore a mask, but, at the same time, 45% of the participants wore mask very rarely.
Three groups of respondents with different level of adhering to preventive behaviour were identified with the cluster analysis (the discriminative analysis confirmed that 96% of classification were correct): 1) “Preventive behaviour without masks” (40%): adhering to hygiene, not leaving home, but, in fact, ignoring wearing a mask; 2) “Risky behaviour” (16%), with low rates of preventive behaviour; 3) “Preventive behaviour” (46%), strictly adhering to preventive behaviour. One-way ANOVA and Scheffe test were used for the comparison of these groups. Those, who adhered to preventive behaviour, tended to experience negative affects, depression, anxiety, and disappointment. They also had lower emotional stability, and higher anxiety about their financial well-being, and were concerned about the political situation in Ukraine. Members of these group demonstrated higher interest, attentiveness and alertness, as well as more interested in different information about coronavirus and the epidemic situation in general. So, this group may be identified as the mostly influenced by mass media. We can assume that interest in information and focused search for it, in a combination with the predisposing features of the affective sphere and personality traits, are predictors of adhering to preventive behaviour. Information about the threat level and the high probability of negative consequences of infection are powerful factors in the formation of preventive behaviour. Interest, attentiveness, mobilizing, conscientiousness and agreeableness are important personal factors for conscious and rational response to the challenges of the COVID-19 epidemic. These factors indicate existence of internally motives for effective preventive behaviour; these motives are sustainable in time and relieve traumatic and distressing emotional experience.
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