Following the publication of the article, we spoke with Dr.Yossi Maaravi about the article's research question, process and its results:
"I conducted this study in collaboration with an excellent team of researchers: Dr. Aharon Levy, Ms. Tamar Gur, Mr. Dan Confino and Ms. Sandra Segal. We wanted to examine at the peak of the corona pandemic whether there is a link between cultural indices of countries and the spread of the corona in those countries, both in terms of the rate of patients and the rate of deaths. We used an existing index that examines collectivism versus individualism between different countries and societies. We wanted to test whether it is possible to predict, using the same index the percentage of ill and dead people in the population. This is a very interesting question because two opposite things could have been predicted. on the one hand, in collectivist societies it can be assumed that there will be more dead and sick because they have more social interactions, people meet more frequently, so there will naturally be more infection. On the other hand, in more collectivist societies people care more about each other, so it could be assumed that citizens would obey instructions on the understanding that their behavior affects the entire population. Based on a classic study called "The Tragedy of the Commons" that deals with social dilemmas, we chose to predict the second option- a lower rate in light of caring and social responsibility. Social dilemmas refer to a situation where every individual should do something negative, for example: not caring about the environment, parking in a prohibited area, etc., but if everyone acts in a negative way it will be a disaster. In the current study we predicted that in collectivist societies people would think more about the common good than about the individual and indeed these were the results in 3 studies we did, one at the state level and two at the individual level".
“The Tragedy of the Commons”: How Individualism and Collectivism Affected the Spread of the COVID-19 Pandemic / Dr. Yossi Maaravi Maaravi, Y., Levy, A., Gur, T., Confino, D., & Segal, S. (2021). “The tragedy of the commons”: How individualism and collectivism affected the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Frontiers in Public Health, 9, 37.
Why did COVID-19 hit some countries harder than others? While this question is usually answered based on demographics (e. g., population age), health policy (e.g., quarantine), or economic factors, we argue that cultural variance across countries is just as crucial in understanding how susceptible a society is to the COVID-19 outbreak. To test this hypothesis, we first analyzed data collected across 69 countries and examined the relationship between culture and the impact of COVID. Next, we conducted two studies to validate our findings further and explore the mechanism at hand. As expected, we found that the more individualistic (vs. collectivistic) a country was, the more COVID-19 cases and mortalities it had. We also found that the more individualistic participants were, the higher the chances they would not adhere to epidemic prevention measures. These findings are important in understanding the spread of the pandemic, devising optimal exit strategies from lockdowns, and persuading the population to get the new vaccine against the virus.