Estimated probabilities of positive, vs. negative, events show separable correlations with covid-19 preventive behaviours
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CitationBooth, R. W., Peker, M., Yavuz, B. B., & Aksu, A. (June 2022). Estimated probabilities of positive, vs. negative, events show separable correlations with COVID-19 preventive behaviours. Personality and individual differences, pp.1-5, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.paid.2022.111576
Research has associated optimism with better health-protective behaviours, but few studies have measured optimism or pessimism directly, by asking participants to estimate probabilities of events. We used these probability estimates to examine how optimism and/or pessimism relate to protecting oneself from COVID-19. When COVID-19 first reached Turkey, we asked a snowball sample of 494 Istanbul adults how much they engaged in various COVID-protective behaviours. They also estimated the probabilities of their catching COVID-19, and of other positive and negative events happening to them. Estimated probability of general positive events (optimism) correlated positively with officially-recommended helpful behaviours (e.g. wearing masks), but not with less-helpful behaviours (e.g. sharing ‘alternative’ COVID-related information online). Estimated probabilities of general negative events (pessimism), or of catching COVID, did not correlate significantly with helpful COVID-related behaviours; but they did correlate with psychopathological symptoms, as did less-helpful COVID-related behaviours. This shows important nuances can be revealed by measuring optimism and pessimism, as separate variables, using probability estimates.