Anxiety as a mediator of relationships between perceptions of the threat of COVID-19 and coping behaviors during the onset of the pandemic in Poland

Marzena Cypryańska-Nezlek , John Nezlek


At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic (10–14 March, 2020) we conducted a survey (n = 1028) of a nationally representative sample (age, sex, and locale) in Poland. Respondents indicated how strong they thought the threat was to themselves, to Poland, and the world. They also described their emotional reactions to the pandemic, which we used to calculate three scores: Anxiety, Hopelessness, and Panic. Respondents also indicated how often they engaged in various coping behaviors and how much they supported different types of economic sacrifice. We used these responses to calculate measures that we labelled as Spread Prevention (e.g., social distancing), Self-preservation (food stockpiling), and Economic Sacrifice (e.g., fighting COVID-19 regardless of the cost). Multiple regression analyses found that perceived threat to self was the most reliable predictor (positive) of emotional reactions and of coping behaviors, and that Anxiety was the most reliable predictor (positive) of Spread prevention and Economic sacrifice. Panic predicted (positively) Self-preservation. A series of mediation analyses found that Anxiety mediated relationships between threat and coping behaviors, and that Panic mediated the relationship between perceived threats and Self-preservation. In addition, we found that scores on all measures, except Panic, increased following the announcement of the first COVID-19 related fatality in Poland, which occurred on the third (middle) day of the study. The mediational relationships we found did not vary as a function of whether the data were collected before or after this announcement. The present results suggest that emotional reactions to perceived threats can serve an instrumental function by providing the motivation to engage in coping behaviors. Such a mechanism complements much research on stress that has focused on how coping mediates threat-emotion relationships.
Author Marzena Cypryańska-Nezlek (Wydział Psychologii w Warszawie)
Marzena Cypryańska-Nezlek,,
- Wydział Psychologii w Warszawie
, John Nezlek (Wydział Psychologii i Prawa w Poznaniu)
John Nezlek,,
- Wydział Psychologii i Prawa w Poznaniu
Journal seriesPLoS ONE, ISSN 1932-6203, (N/A 100 pkt)
Issue year2020
Publication size in sheets0.75
ASJC Classification2700 General Medicine; 1100 General Agricultural and Biological Sciences; 1300 General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
URL journal.pone.0241464
Languageen angielski
2020-PLOS One-COVID-Anxiety.pdf 533.19 KB
2020-PLOS One COVID-Anxiety-Nezlek-Affliation-signed.pdf 903.76 KB
2020-11-07-11-59-11-284.pdf 36.46 KB
Score (nominal)100
Score sourcejournalList
Publication indicators Scopus SNIP (Source Normalised Impact per Paper): 2017 = 1.111; WoS Impact Factor: 2018 = 2.776 (2) - 2018=3.337 (5)
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