COVID-19 in social networks: unravelling its impact on youth risk perception, motivations and protective behaviours during the initial stages of the pandemic
The study explores the roles of youth prosocial, self-interested and controlled motivations to comply with recommended protective behaviour during the initial stages of the COVID-19 pandemic. We test the interrelations of aware-ness of COVID-19 cases in social network, risk perception, motivation and behaviour, via structural equation modelling on self-reported data from 1,265 undergraduate university students. Analysis identified prosocial motivation and self-interested motivation as equally strong for predicting young peo-ple’s behaviour while controlled motivation revealed no association. The presence of known COVID-19 cases in social networks could differently affect perceived risks of disease and motivation to comply with protective mea-sures. While awareness of severe consequences positively affects motivation, awareness of mild cases, in contrast, decreases perceived disease severity.