A global experiment on motivating social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic. / Psychological Science Accelerator Self-Determination Theory Collaboration.

In: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, Vol. 119, No. 22, 31.05.2022, p. e2111091119.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

  • Psychological Science Accelerator Self-Determination Theory Collaboration


SignificanceCommunicating in ways that motivate engagement in social distancing remains a critical global public health priority during the COVID-19 pandemic. This study tested motivational qualities of messages about social distancing (those that promoted choice and agency vs. those that were forceful and shaming) in 25,718 people in 89 countries. The autonomy-supportive message decreased feelings of defying social distancing recommendations relative to the controlling message, and the controlling message increased controlled motivation, a less effective form of motivation, relative to no message. Message type did not impact intentions to socially distance, but people's existing motivations were related to intentions. Findings were generalizable across a geographically diverse sample and may inform public health communication strategies in this and future global health emergencies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)e2111091119
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number22
Publication statusPublished - 31 May 2022
Externally publishedYes
This open access research output is licenced under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

ID: 45386987