The Role of Impulsivity and Delay Discounting in Student Compliance with COVID-19 Protective Measures

Annelot Wismans, Srebrenka Letina, Karl Wennberg, Roy Thurik, Rui Baptista, Andrew E. Burke, Marcus DEJARDIN, Frank Janssen, Enrico Santarelli, Olivier Torrès, Ingmar H. A. Franken

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During the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic, governments set recommendations and restrictions that have given rise to new situations that require residents to deliberate and respond nonautomatically. For highly impulsive individuals, dealing with these situations may be harder, as they tend to deliberate less about the consequences of their behaviors. In this study, we investigate the relationship between impulsivity and delay discounting on the one hand and compliance with COVID-19 restrictions on the other hand. We distinguish between compliance with social distancing measures and compliance with hygiene measures. Regression analyses of an international sample of 6759 students from seven European countries reveal that the self-reported personality construct of impulsivity is negatively related to both types of compliance behavior. However, and unexpectedly, we also find a weak positive association between the discount rate—as measured by a behavioral task—and compliance. Our study highlights the importance of individual differences in impulsivity in regard to compliance with public health measures during a pandemic.
Original languageEnglish
Article number110925
JournalPersonality and Individual Differences
Publication statusPublished - 22 Apr 2021


  • COVID-19
  • Compliance
  • Impulsivity
  • Delay discounting
  • Students
  • Public health


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