New method to curb coronavirus: Change public opinion - study

Researchers were able to change people's perceptions about health regulations using online tools, and research showed an improvement of "individuals' health preserving attitudes."

One World Trade is seen behind a sign that flashes an emergency alert, as the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak continues in New York City, New York, U.S., March 23, 2020 (photo credit: REUTERS/MIKE SEGAR)
One World Trade is seen behind a sign that flashes an emergency alert, as the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak continues in New York City, New York, U.S., March 23, 2020
(photo credit: REUTERS/MIKE SEGAR)
Short online processes to change people's attitude about the coronavirus and increase adherence to coronavirus safety measures without coercion have proven effective, new research suggests.
A study, led by Prof. Ilan Fischer from the University of Haifa and driven by game theory, suggests this new method for decreasing the spread of coronavirus. 
Researchers were able to change people's perceptions about health regulations using online tools. The research showed an improvement of "individuals' health-preserving attitudes" by making use of "cluster[s] of short interventions, such as elaboration on possible consequences... addressing next of kin" and more.

The interventions were found to be highly effective, changing perceptions of over 70% in Jewish participants and over 90% of Arab participants of those that took part in Israel. 
Public perception of coronavirus regulations and safety measures is having a significant impact on measures taken to reduce the spread of infection, with a lack of public cooperation with regulations and safety measures having a clear impact on the effectiveness of the measures.
Some 44% of Israelis who were required to enter quarantine did not register with the Health Ministry, and 45% lie on epidemiological inquiries meaning that there is not enough data or correct data for these inquiries to be effective.
The IDF chief of staff pointed to the lack of public discipline as a weakness in combating the spread of coronavirus.
The research used three elements that influence individuals to follow regulations more carefully without coercion: Indirect Measurements, Personalized interventions and Attitude-Changing Treatments. These methods are referred to collectively as IMPACT. 
The study titled "The behavioral challenge of the COVID-19 pandemic: indirect measures and personalized attitude changing treatments (IMPACT)" was published by the Royal Society Open Science. People from over 70 countries worldwide participated in the study, conducted by an international team.

Tobias Siegal contributed to this report.