ORIGINAL PAPER
COVID-19 emergency: the influence of implicit attitudes, information sources, and individual characteristics on psychological distress, intentions to get vaccinated, and compliance with restrictive rules
 
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University of Padova, Padova, Italy
Submission date: 2021-09-05
Final revision date: 2021-11-07
Acceptance date: 2021-11-08
Online publication date: 2021-12-06
Publication date: 2021-12-06
 
Health Psychology Report 2022;10(1):1–12
 
KEYWORDS
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ABSTRACT
Background:
To limit the spread of the COVID-19 emergency, a massive vaccination program was implemented and restrictive measures were imposed on the population. However, the propensity to adhere to the vaccination program has struggled to take off. Moreover, complying with the restrictive rules and maintaining social distancing have been highly distressing for many individuals.

Participants and procedure:
Italian participants (N = 140, females = 65%, mean age = 29.50, SD = 10.80) were presented with an online survey consisting of multiple-choice questions and two single-category implicit association tests (SC-IATs). One SC-IAT evaluated the ten-dency of participants to automatically associate personal protective equipment (PPE) and vaccines with safety or danger; the other evaluated their tendency to automatically associate social situations with good or bad. Multiple-choice questions ex-plored individual, social, and environmental factors that were expected to contribute to vaccine propensity, compliance with restrictive rules, and feelings of distress.

Results:
Using scientific information sources was related to implicitly associating PPE and vaccines with safety, which in turn was associated with the propensity to get the vaccine. Moreover, being female, young, unsatisfied with social relationships, having suffered health and economic consequences due to the pandemic, and having negative implicit attitudes toward so-cial situations contributed to increasing feelings of distress.

Conclusions:
Communication may contribute to individuals’ behavior and preferences and it can also be associated with implicit atti-tudes, becoming consequently one of the main leverages to reduce vaccine hesitancy. Recovery programs should prioritize the development of interventions aimed at fostering psychological well-being through the enhancement of social contacts.

 
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