Trust in Public Health Sources, COVID-19 Protective Behaviors, and the Attenuating Role of Behavioral Beliefs: A Dual Processing Study with a Longitudinal Representative Sample of U.S. Adults
Social and Behavioral Sciences
Public distrust in official sources of COVID-19 information threatens to undermine engagement in recommended practices. Nonetheless, people with low trust may adhere if they believe recommended behaviors are effective. This set of longitudinal studies examines the interaction between behavioral beliefs and trust in official sources in their effects on recommended COVID-19 prevention behaviors (study 1: facemask wearing and social distancing; study 2: vaccination). Repeated measurement data were collected from a nationally representative sample of U.S. adults in May/June 2020 (T1; n=1074), July 2020 (T2; n=889), and April/June 2021 (T3; n=750). Lagged linear regressions found consistent negative interactions between trust and behavioral beliefs, either significant (T1-T2: facemask wearing B=-0.10, SE=0.04; T1-T3: social distancing B=-0.20, SE=0.06; T2-T3 vaccination B=-0.27, SE=0.10) or close to significant (T1-T3: social distancing B=-0.13, SE=0.08; T1-T3: facemask wearing B=-0.11, SE=0.06). These results support dual-processing models; among individuals who strongly believed in behavioral benefits, trust did not influence adherence.