«More than a third of the Italians, 38% to be precise, find it very difficult to change their life habits, even though this could mean protecting from the Pandemic». These words are the words of Guendalina Graffigna, professor of Consumer Psychology and director of the EngageMinds HUB research centre, who summarises the problematic nature of the population's adaptation to the rules still necessary after Phase 1 and Phase 2 of the Covid-19 emergency: wearing the mask, frequently sanitising their hands and respecting the so-called social distancing. The percentage of people who are reluctant to change their living rules is high and crosses socio-demographic variables.
These figures come from a study by the research centre of Università Cattolica - conducted with a survey using the CAWI (Computer Assisted Web Interview) method on a sample of 1000 Italians representative of the Italian population.
The difficulty of adapting our habits to the new normality imposed by cohabiting with this new coronavirus is felt more by men (43% compared to an overall average of 38%), especially if they are young (44% in the 18-34 age group), living in the south and on the islands (42%) and with an average income (47%). And among those with a high educational qualification (degree or higher), the proportion of Italians "in trouble" rises to 49%.
Moreover, the EngageMinds HUB's research has crossed the basic data with other psychological factors. Those who perceive a high risk of Covid-19 infection show greater difficulty in adapting to pandemic behaviour measures than the general population, so much so that the question «Will it be very difficult for me to change my life habits during Phase 3?" is answered "quite true" or "totally true" by 47% of those interviewed» - Graffigna points out.
What also makes the difference is the level of psychological involvement of people in prevention (technically called "patient engagement"): EngageMinds HUB researchers have studied and scientifically validated an indicator that makes it possible to measure the level of proactivity and involvement of people in health and this parameter also explains the different reactions of Italians to measures to contain contagion from new Coronavirus. According to this study, in fact, those who are found to have a high level of "patient engagement" perceive the change in their life habits during this Phase 3 as less difficult than the general population, while those who are in a position of low involvement perceive more difficulty in change.
«This latest assessment, and in particular the fact that it attributes greater unresponsiveness to those who are most frightened by the risk of contagion to adopt protective behaviour against the same contagion, highlights the psychological complexity of Italians' reactions to preventive prescriptions. Most of the traditional approaches to preventive communication have focused on the emotion of fear as the main lever to make the population aware of a change in behaviour. However, as shown by these data, the process of education and awareness raising is much more complex on an emotional and psychological level, especially for younger and more culturally advanced segments of the population. In this case, frightening or taking on too punitive and severe tones can generate the opposite effect, of closure and inattention to preventive behaviour. On the contrary, conveying communication that values the possibility of people becoming protagonists in the management of their own health and that cultivates their active involvement in prevention can be more effective». Professor Graffigna said.