Compliance and Behavioral Shifts Under Crisis

Anna-Maria Kanzola (National and Kapodistrian University of Athens)
Nikolaos Chantzis (National and Kapodistrian University of Athens)
Anastasia Petroulia (National and Kapodistrian University of Athens)
Panagiotis Petrakis (National and Kapodistrian University of Athens)
Konstantina Papaioannou (National and Kapodistrian University of Athens)


This study examines the behavioral shifts in beliefs regarding compliance using the Covid-19 pandemic as a case study. A set of social identity variables frames the outline of human behavior. Before the pandemic outbreak, individuals’ perceptions of compliance depended on variables mainly associated with personal characteristics, attitudes toward formal institutions, and political beliefs. In contrast, for 2020, we observe a strong presence of social emotions and informal institutions shaping compliance. These findings indicate that individuals turned to their close social environment to prioritize their existential and economic security. In this case, individuals prefer to rely on informal institutions and social norms rather than political institutions for guidance. We thus conclude that the complex nature of the Covid-19 shock will reshape social values, institutions, and behaviors due to its consequences’ novelty, rapidity, and severity. Regarding policymaking, it is admitted that for attaining higher levels of compliance, the various aspects of human nature shaping lawful behavior should be considered beyond posing sanctions. The accumulated knowledge can be used to design flexible, efficient, and appropriate ‘nudge’ policies contributing to the efficiency and resilience of economies and legal systems. Further research is guided toward examining the relationship between institutional quality, regulation, and social trust.

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