Perceived Risk and Precautions during a Pandemic Outbreak

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The PANDRISK research project measured, tracked, and predicted the impact of risk perception on precautionary behavior, social dynamics, and compliance with advice during different stages of the pandemic. We tested whether psychological traits, such as optimism, motivation, and mental flexibility, explained individual variations in people's responses. 

The COVID-19 pandemic affected nearly all individuals to some degree. The PANDRISK research project conducted psychological research to explore how individuals responded to a pandemic outbreak. The objective was to establish a knowledge base that governmental bodies and health authorities could utilize to address the then-current COVID-19 pandemic as well as potential future pandemics. 

Our focus was on investigating how individuals perceived the ramifications of the pandemic and how this perception influenced factors such as: behavioral patterns, susceptibility to infection, potential to transmit the virus, concerns about contracting the virus, levels of anxiety, and mental well-being. The project, comprising multiple studies, also aimed to examine how personality traits like coping mechanisms, optimism, and motivation could account for the variations in how individuals responded to a pandemic outbreak. 

Over the course of 18 months, the project gathered data by engaging participants from the "Norwegian Citizen Panel." In addition to surveys, in-depth interviews were conducted to delve into participants' experiences related to risk perception, coping strategies, and adherence to quarantine measures. A smartphone application was also employed to collect real-time information about day-to-day encounters and the psychological consequences of the pandemic outbreak. 

The project was led by the Operative Psychology research group at UiB, in collaboration with regional, national, and international experts, along with partners from Columbia University in New York and King's College in London. The findings from the studies were continually disseminated throughout the project and published in peer-reviewed journals. The collected data was made publicly accessible, with anonymized data shared for the benefit of other researchers. 

Funding for the PANDRISK project was provided by the Trond Mohn Foundation, project number TMS2020TMT08.