A University of Waikato academic has played a key role in
an international study researching human experience,
behaviour and attitudes towards the Covid-19
Dr Taciano Milfont joined the COVIDiSTRESS
global survey which gathered data from participants across
the globe in the early months of the pandemic last
In a study published in Royal
Society Open Science, the team examined stress and worry
across over 170,000 respondents from 48
While there were no clear geographical
boundaries, respondents in Western European countries
expressed greater stress and worry about Covid-19 and more
trust in governments’ effort to handle the crisis than
respondents from other countries.
They also found that
across countries the more worried people were about the
pandemic the more stress they felt. But despite this
association, stress and worry related differently to
compliance with local prevention guidelines. Overall people
were more compliant when they were more concerned about
Covid-19 but less stressed.
“The findings suggest
that if you are in stress mode, you cannot operate properly.
You are too stressed to focus and comply with behavioural
guidelines,” said Dr Milfont.
finding from the survey was the association between stress
and trust in the government’s efforts; the more trust
people had the less stressed they felt. This is linked to another
research paper Dr Milfont co-authored showing trust and
confidence in the New Zealand Government increased during
the 2020 lockdown.
According to Dr Milfont a notable
aspect of the international project, which is led by
Associate Professor Andreas Leiberoth from the Danish School
of Education at Aarhus University, is the wealth of data
that has been made available for anyone to
“The international study uses open science
principles and provides a rich data set for anyone working
in public health or policy, and the data will continue to