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How long will people stay at home? It depends

How well orders to stay at home work during the COVID-19 pandemic depends a lot on how officials communicate them, a new study shows.
two people use laptops on couch

A new study highlights the importance of effective communication when public officials issue stay-at-home orders during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The efforts of compliant individuals should not be taken for granted.”

When officials presented Italians self-isolating during the country’s COVID-19 outbreak with a hypothetical situation in which orders to remain at home would remain for shorter periods than they had expected, they expressed more willingness to stay in isolation.

But people negatively surprised to hear that the hypothetical extensions of the orders would last longer than they had anticipated said they were less willing to maintain or increase their isolation.

The working paper sheds new light on people’s willingness to self-isolate, says Mario Macis, an economist at Johns Hopkins University.

Here, Macis talks about the current US social distancing policies, the psychological impact of long-term isolation, and whether it’s wise for officials to issue deadlines or dates when normal activities can resume:

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