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Title: Risk perception as a double-edged sword in policy compliance in COVID-19 pandemic? A two-phase evaluation from Hong Kong
Authors: Yue, Ricci P. H. 
Dr. LAU Hi Po, Bobo 
Chan, Cecilia Lai Wai 
Ng, Siu Man, Dilys 
Issue Date: 2021
Source: Journal of Risk Research, 2021.
Journal: Journal of Risk Research 
Abstract: The emphasis of risk has been recognized as a crucial component to effective and successful policy compliance amidst a crisis. Yet, during the COVID-19 pandemic, when the impact of risk may fluctuate with the severity of the prolonged pandemic, and that the public consider not only public health factors when they choose but also whether to follow a COVID-19-related policy, perceived risk may not always lead to policy compliance. Two cross-sectional online surveys (during almost zero case period in late April to May, 2020 (Wave 2) and during the biggest outbreak in July, 2020 (Wave 3)) with convenient sampling were conducted to examine the dichotomous role of perceived severity and perceived susceptibility in influencing policy compliance in Hong Kong. A total of 1816 responses from local adults were collected (Wave 2: N = 564; Female % = 69.7%; Mean age = 39.4; Wave 3: N = 1252; Female %=68.8%; Mean age = 40.2). Although policy compliance is found to increase with the scale of the outbreak, results from path analyses showed that perceived susceptibility and perceived severity have an indirect role in policy complying behaviour when the objective risk is low. Risk variables, including attitude, knowledge, benefit and trust, have directly shaped policy compliance. More importantly, perceived severity boosts policy compliance but perceived susceptibility was associated with disobedience to public health policies. Meanwhile, Hong Kong citizens have a selective and conscious preference regarding the stringency of public health policy: They welcome more law and order, with increasing magnitude of penalty, but reject lockdown measures such as a curfew. Regression results implied that demography had a mild contribution to the acceptance of public health policies, with only the female gender being statistically related to higher policy acceptance. The findings of this study imply that boosting attitude, knowledge, benefit and trust would come more directly helpful in promoting public health policy compliance than emphasizing on risks alone. This study calls for further reflection on the traditional role of risk, especially perceived susceptibility, in mobilizing policy compliance to COVID-19-related measures.
Type: Peer Reviewed Journal Article
ISSN: 1366-9877
DOI: 10.1080/13669877.2021.1936612
Appears in Collections:Counselling and Psychology - Publication

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