Wednesday, January 26, 2022

National identity predicts support for public health measures during coronavirus pandemic


 News Release 26-Jan-2022
Peer-Reviewed Publication
New York University


Identification with one’s nation predicts both greater engagement with public health behaviors, such as masking and social distancing, and support for public health policies, finds an analysis of attitudes across 67 countries. The research, which appears in the journal Nature Communications, suggests that national identities play a significant and positive role in battling a global pandemic.

“History has undoubtedly shown that nationalism can be a destructive force,” observes Jay Van Bavel, a professor of psychology at New York University and one of the paper’s authors. “But research has also revealed that there is a pro-social side to group identity. This study points to a new and promising possibility—that national identity can be useful in effectively addressing the current pandemic and may serve as a public health resource in the future.”

“We see the positive effects, especially for those who feel genuinely proud and close to their nation, rather than those who are mostly concerned about how others see their country,” adds Aleksandra Cichocka, director of the Political Psychology Lab at the University of Kent and one of the paper’s authors.


 the researchers aimed to separate national identity, which gauges how strongly people identify with their country, from national narcissism, which is a form of social identity that involves the belief that one’s group—or, in this case, nation—is exceptional but also underappreciated by others. Past studies have found that national identification tends to correlate with national narcissism because they both involve a positive evaluation of one’s nation. However, the researchers note, they are linked to very different outcomes. For example, prejudice against outgroups (those seen as different) is negatively associated with national identification, but positively with national narcissism.


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