Sunday, May 10, 2020

In simulations: Interpersonal distance is significantly reduced when the characters wear a face mask compared to other conditions

Cartaud, Alice, Quesque Fran├žois, and Yann Coello. 2020. “Beware of Virus! Wearing a Face Mask Against COVID-19 Results in a Reduction of Social Distancing.” PsyArXiv. May 11. doi:10.31234/osf.io/ubzea

Abstract: In the context of Covid-19 pandemic, barrier gestures such as regular hand washing, social distancing, and wearing face mask are highly recommended. Critically, interpersonal distances depend on the physical and emotional dimensions involved in social interaction, two factors that might be affected by the current Covid-19 context. In the present internet-based experimental study, we analyzed the preferred interpersonal distance of 461 participants, when facing a virtual character either wearing a face mask or displaying a neutral, happy or angry facial expression. The results showed that interpersonal distance is significantly reduced when the characters wear a face mask compared to other conditions. Importantly, it was also reduced in participants already infected with Covid-19, or living in a low-risk area. The present findings are of dramatic importance as they indicate that the general requirement to wear a mask in social contexts can have deleterious effects, interfering with social distancing recommendations.



Individuals high in neuroticism experienced more negative affect in their daily lives during the Covid-19 pandemic

Kroencke, Lara, Katharina Geukes, Till Utesch, Niclas Kuper, and Mitja Back. 2020. “Neuroticism and Emotional Risk During the Covid-19 Pandemic.” PsyArXiv. May 10. doi:10.31234/osf.io/8c6nh

Abstract: Large-scale health crises, such as the Covid-19 pandemic, may evoke negative affective responses, which are closely linked to psychological maladjustment and psychopathology. Here, we shed light on the role of the personality trait neuroticism in predicting who is at risk and why. In a large-scale experience-sampling study based on a German convenience sample (N = 1,609; 38,120 momentary reports), individuals high in neuroticism experienced more negative affect in their daily lives during the Covid-19 pandemic. The effects of neuroticism on negative affect were substantially stronger than those of sociodemographic factors and personally experienced health threats. Underlying mechanisms included (a) higher attention to Covid-19-related information and higher engagement in Covid-19-related worries (crisis preoccupation), and (b) stronger negative affect during this preoccupation (affective reactivity). These findings highlight that global pandemics put not only people’s physical health at stake but also their psychological well-being and offer concrete starting points for large-scale prevention efforts.

A concern raised by the “immunity passports” is that not-yet-infected individuals would have an incentive to expose themselves to the virus intentionally so that they can develop antibodies and get passports

Hemel, Daniel Jacob and Malani, Anup, Immunity Passports and Moral Hazard (May 8, 2020). SSRN: https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=3596569

Abstract: The idea of using “immunity passports” to restart the economy before the arrival of a SARS-CoV-2 vaccine has attracted increasing attention as the Covid-19 crisis has escalated. Under an “immunity passport” regime, individuals who test positive for SARS-CoV-2 antibodies would receive certificates allowing them to return to work and potentially to participate in a broader range of activities without social distancing. One concern raised by the “immunity passport” proposal is that not-yet-infected individuals would have an incentive to expose themselves to the virus intentionally so that they can develop antibodies and obtain passports. This paper evaluates the moral-hazard risk that an immunity passport regime would generate. We develop a rudimentary rational-actor model of self-infection decisions under an immunity passport regime and then parameterize the model using early data on SARS-CoV-2 infection outcomes. Our topline result is that strategic self-infection would be privately rational for younger adults under a wide range of plausible parameters. This result raises two significant concerns. First, in the process of infecting themselves, younger adults may expose others—including older and/or immunocompromised individuals—to SARS-CoV-2, generating significant negative externalities. Second, even if younger adults can self-infect without exposing others to risk, large numbers of self-infections over a short timeframe after introduction of the immunity passport regime may impose significant congestion externalities on health care infrastructure. We then evaluate several interventions that could mitigate moral hazard under an immunity passport regime, including the extension of unemployment benefits, staggered implementation of passports, and controlled exposure of individuals who seek to self-infect. Our results underscore the importance of careful planning around moral hazard as part of any widescale immunity passport regime.

Keywords: immunity passports, immunity certificates, moral hazard, COVID-19, SARS-CoV-2
JEL Classification: I10, I13, I18, J0, J4, K1,