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The Impact of COVID-19 on the Majority Population, Ethno-Racial Minorities, and Immigrants: A Systematic Literature Review on Threat Appraisals From an Inter-Group Perspective


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The COVID-19 pandemic constitutes an unprecedented threat for individuals and societies, revealing stark inequalities in preparedness, exposure, and consequences. The present systematic literature review complements extant knowledge on disasters and pandemic diseases with programmatic research on the COVID-19 pandemic. Building upon an integrative definition of threat, we merge intra-personal threat regulation with group dynamics and inter-group relations. Via streamlined methods of knowledge synthesis, we first map out a broad taxonomy of threats, as appraised by the majority population and ethno-racial and immigrant minorities. Second, we delve into research linking threat appraisals with either conflict or prosociality within and across group boundaries. To conclude, we propose some guidelines for researchers to actively involve ethno-racial and immigrant minorities, and for societies to cope cohesively with the impact of COVID-19.
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Politi, E., Lüders, A., Sankaran, S., Anderson, J., van Assche, J., Spiritus-Beerden, E., Roblain, A., Phalet, K.,
Dreluyn, I., & Green, E.G.T. (2021). The impact of COVID-19 on the majority population, ethno-racial
minorities, and immigrants: A systematic review on threat appraisals from an inter-group perspective. European
Psychologist, 26(4).
The impact of COVID-19 on majority population, ethno-racial minorities, and
immigrants: A systematic literature review on threat appraisals from an intergroup
Emanuele Politi1,2 Adrian Lüders3, Sindhuja Sankaran4, Joel Anderson5, Jasper Van
Assche1,6, Eva Spiritus-Beerden7, Antoine Roblain8, Karen Phalet1, Ilse Derluyn7, An
Verelst7, and Eva G.T. Green2
1 Center for Social and Cultural Psychology, KU Leuven, Belgium
2 Social Psychology Lab, University of Lausanne, Switzerland
3 Center for Social Issues Research, University of Limerick, Ireland
4 Center for Social Cognitive Studies, Jagiellonian University Krakow, Poland
5 School of Behavioral and Health Sciences, Australian Catholic University, Australia
6 Department of Developmental, Personality, and Social Psychology, Ghent University, Belgium
7 Department of Social Work and Social Pedagogy, Ghent University, Belgium
8 Center for Social and Cultural Psychology, Université Libre de Bruxelles, Belgium
Corresponding author
Emanuele Politi (, Center for Social and Cultural
Psychology, Faculty of Psychology & Educational Sciences, KU Leuven, Belgium.
Tiensestraat 102 B, 3000. Leuven. E-mail:
Author note
This research was supported by a Early Postdoctoral Mobility grant from the
Swiss National Science Foundation awarded to Emanuele Politi
(P2LAP1 _L877Og)
COVID-19, threat appraisals, inter-group conflict, prosociality, ethno-racial and immigrant
The COVID-19 pandemic constitutes an unprecedented threat for individuals and societies,
revealing stark inequalities in preparedness, exposure, and consequences. The present
systematic literature review complements extant knowledge on disasters and pandemic
diseases with programmatic research on the COVID-19 pandemic. Building upon an
integrative definition of threat, we merge intra-personal threat regulation with group
dynamics and inter-group relations. Via streamlined methods of knowledge synthesis, we
first map out a broad taxonomy of threats, as appraised by the majority population and ethno-
racial and immigrant minorities. Second, we delve into research linking threat appraisals with
either conflict or prosociality within and across group boundaries. To conclude, we propose
some guidelines for researchers to actively involve ethno-racial and immigrant minorities,
and for societies to cope cohesively with the impact of COVID-19.
Outbreaks of diseases are an inevitable aspect of human history, yet the COVID-19
outbreak constitutes an unprecedented global threat (ECDC, 2020). During this pandemic,
ethno-racial and immigrant minorities disproportionately bore the brunt of the infection,
experiencing cumulative stressors that were piled upon preexisting disadvantages and social
exclusions (e.g., Abedi et al., 2020; see also WHO, 2020). Some of these stressors may
stemm from integration challenges and restricted resources among newly arrived immigrants
(Martiniello & Rea, 2014), whereas other stressors arise from long lasting experiences of
structural racism (Sears et al., 2000).
To establish the psychological impact of this global pandemic and to design inclusive
recovery plans, it is crucial to consider different social ecologies in which individuals are
embedded. In the present work we develop an integrative approach, contextualizing the
unequal psychological impact of the pandemic on ethno-racial and immigrant minorities, as
compared to the majority population. We conceptualize this impact at multiple levels of
threat and discuss how these threats may impact intra- and inter-group outcomes.
Social psychological research on threat experiences is largely fragmented and
comprises disconnected theoretical frameworks. Researchers have studied threat from an
intrapersonal perspective as an outcome of basic cognitive and affective processes that
catalyze threat cues into avoidance and approach-based reactions (e.g., Jonas et al., 2014).
From an alternate social identity approach of the self, researchers have focused on how
individual threat perceptions emerge from feelings of belonging to social categories or groups
(e.g., Branscombe et al., 1999). Finally, researchers have examined how ‘realistic’ and
‘symbolic’ conflict are rooted in socio-structural power asymmetries between groups, thus
engendering perceived threats to group cohesion and survival (Stephan et al., 2009).
Our systematic literature review incorporates these different levels of analysis and
defines threat as external or internal stressors that are appraised as a potential danger to
physical or psychological goals relevant to the personal or social self, group cohesion, and
survival. We deem imperative to operationalize “threat” at different levels to provide a more
contextual and comprehensive understanding of how people navigate the COVID-19
outbreak (see Doise, 1986 for an exhaustive introduction on the levels of analysis in social
psychology). Our systematic review thus expands the knowledge on COVID-19 related
threats and is organized in three parts: First, we tease apart different levels and sources of
threat as it is appraised by members of the majority population. Second, we identify common
and distinct sources and appraisals of threat among ethno-racial and immigrant minority
groups. Third, we outline the social-psychological processes connecting different threat
appraisals with either conflict or prosociality within and across group boundaries.
We conducted a systematic literature search to identify published peer-reviewed and
unpublished (i.e., pre-prints) records presenting data with content-specific information on
threat appraisals related to previous disasters, pandemic diseases, and the current COVID-19
outbreak. We based our search on the Cochrane methodology and presented methods and
findings following the PRISMA standard for Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic
Reviews and Meta-Analyses (Moher et al., 2009); To ensure we collected such data at (a) the
individual level of threat (i.e., personal and social self), (b) the collective level of threat (i.e.,
group cohesion and survival), and (c) intra- and inter-group outcomes (i.e., prosociality and
conflict), we designed and implemented the three search strategies presented in Table 1. Each
strategy comprised a common threat context and a unique concept relevant to the search, and
these were combined using the Boolean operator AND. The concepts themselves comprised a
series of search terms which were combined using the Boolean operator OR. Main database
searching was conducted on November-December 2020 (PsyINFO),
and additional
unpublished literature on COVID-19 was screened on April-May 2021 (PsyArXiv).
Study Selection and Inclusion Criteria
Records identified by the search strategy were subjected to the first phase of screening
via Abstracker (Rathbone et al., 2015), using an automated, streamlined method of
knowledge synthesis (Tricco et al., 2017). In the second phase, eligibility was further
assessed based on the full text of each record. We excluded records that did not focus on
threat contexts relevant to this review, as well as short commentaries and editorial notes. We
also excluded records that did not asses specific threat appraisal contents. For instance,
generalized measures of trait anxiety, wellbeing, and stress inventories were not retained.
Similarly, we excluded records measuring perceptions, opinions, and attitudes (e.g., trust in
institutions, perceived personal risk) that were not explicitly and directly linked with threat
appraisals (e.g., worries about freedom loss or fear of infection). The search was restricted to
peer-reviewed journal articles written in English and published from the year 2000 onwards.
Data Synthesis
Data were extracted onto a spreadsheet and organized based on the following
columns: (i)The national context of the threat, (ii) a focus on ethno-racial or immigrant
minorities (iii), publication status (iv), specific subdimensions of threat assessment (v),
relevance to intra- and inter-group outcomes (see Table S.1 in the Electronic Supplementary
Materials, ESM). We used the principles of thematic analysis to code specific threat
appraisals into eight distinct types of threat. The first four threat types were reported by both
majority and ethno-racial and immigrant minorities, namely 1) life threat, 2) basic
A second screening on PsycINFO was repeated on April-May 2021 to include additional references and update
the literature search.
psychological needs frustration, 3) livelihood and financial concerns, and 4) social
disintegration and political dysregulation. The last four threat types were uniquely reported
by ethno-racial and immigrant minorities, namely 5) stigma and discrimination, 6) stress
sensitization, 7) legal vulnerability, and 8) marginalization.
Our search for data based on our broad conceptualization of threat identified 5,064
relevant records. After excluding 4,595 non-relevant articles, we retained 468 studies: 167
directly relevant empirical studies on past disasters and pandemics, 292 directly relevant
empirical studies on the current COVID-19 outbreak, and 8 systematic reviews and one meta-
analysis that linked past pandemics and the current COVID-19 outbreak (see Figure 1).
Systematic reviews or meta-analyses were screened first, followed by the thematic grouping
of empirical studies based on shared content or similarities in findings.
Findings were organized by theoretical account wherein we reviewed evidence from
previous disasters and infectious diseases for each account before introducing research
assessing threat in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. The literature presented below is
summarized in prose. However, Supplementary Table S1 in ESM presents the full collated
and synthesized data from this systematic review.
Threat Appraisals by the Majority Population
Among the total records selected, 392 out of 468 empirical papers (83.8%), eight
systematic reviews, and one meta-analysis focused on perspectives from the majority
population. Both the systematic reviews and the meta-analysis reviewed prior evidence about
the negative consequences of social isolation (e.g., Hossain et al., 2020) and more general
“Coronaphobia” for individual distress and mental health (e.g., Şimşir et al., 2021). The
empirical papers were organized around four main threat types on the basis of the specific
contents of threat appraisals, from personal and social self to group cohesion and survival as
operationally defined earlier (Figure 2).
Life threat. Extremely adverse events, such as natural disasters and pandemic
outbreaks, trigger immediate fears and long-term anxieties about the health ramifications of
disaster exposure (Coelho et al., 2020). Relatedly, life threat triggers severe anxiety due to
awareness by individuals that their death is inevitable (Jonas et al., 2014).
Among the 392 empirical studies with the majority population, 260 (66.3%) focused
on life threats following disasters and disease outbreaks. Terrorism-related threats like the
2011 Oslo bombing were observed in 30 papers (e.g., Heir et al., 2016). Threats of natural
disasters, like among adolescents exposed to the 2010 earthquake in Chile, were seen in 16
papers (e.g., Guerra et al., 2014). Seventeen papers explored threats of infectious diseases,
like Ugandan midwives endangered by HIV (Salyer et al., 2008). Life threat experienced in
response to the COVD-19 outbreak received extensive attention (n = 197), as reflected by a
multitude of scales measuring fear and distress of getting seek and dying because of the
coronavirus (e.g., Ahorsu et al., 2020; Feng et al., 2020; Taylor et al., 2020).
Basic psychological needs frustration. The COVID-19 pandemic and the enforced
countermeasures may hamper psychological well-being by preventing individuals from
pursuing specific goals related to basic psychological needs for competence, autonomy, and
social relatedness (Ryan & Deci, 2000). Consequently, people may experience goal blockage
or personal goal frustration, which may increase their psychological vulnerabilities
(Vansteenkiste & Ryan, 2013).
Among the 392 empirical studies with the majority population, 74 (18.9%) focused on
basic psychological needs frustration following disasters and disease outbreaks. These threats
were observed in four papers on terrorism, like among Israeli settlers in Palestinian territories
(Shalev, 2006); four papers on natural disasters, like among young adults affected by the
Canterbury earthquakes in New Zealand (Fergusson et al., 2015); and two papers on
infectious diseases, like among veterans with HIV in the US (Greysen et al., 2013). In
comparison to previous literature on this topic, basic psychological need frustration received
more attention in response to the COVID-19 outbreak (n = 59), with studies focusing
specifically on fear of uncertainty (e.g., Arpaci et al., 2020), lack of control (e.g., Irshad et al.,
2020), and social isolation (e.g., Kira, Shuwiekh, Rice et al., 2020).
Livelihood and financial concerns. Dealing with an actual or perceived scarcity of
resources is demanding and may impede optimal cognitive functioning (e.g., Mani et al.,
2013). Empirical research demonstrates that resource scarcity impairs decision-making, and
depletes executive control functions (Mullainathan & Shafir, 2014). Hence, there is a clear
need for humans to have a livelihood, earn an income, and to support themselves and their
Among the 392 empirical studies with the majority population, 65 (16.6%) focused on
livelihood and financial concerns following disasters and disease outbreaks. These threats
were observed in three papers on terrorism, such as in the aftermath of the 9/11 attack in the
US (Brown et al., 2019); and six papers on natural disasters, e.g., among survivors of the
2008 Kosi River flooding in India (Crabtree, 2013). Livelihood and financial concerns
received considerable attention in response to the COVID-19 outbreak (n = 56), not only at
the individual level, like impaired socio-economic conditions (e.g., Mertens et al., 2021) and
job loss (e.g., Rogers et al., 2021), but also at the collective level, related to supply shortages
(e.g., Arpaci et al., 2020) and global financial crisis (e.g., Kachanoff et al., 2020).
Social disintegration and political dysregulation. Durkheim (1897/1987) first
conceptualized anomie as a societal situation in which both the political and the moral norm
systems lose power to regulate society. Based on his seminal work, Teymoori et al. (2017)
proposed a psychological approach to understanding anomie, which was closer to the concept
of threat and included the perception of an irreparable breakdown of social cohesion (i.e.,
social disintegration) and delegitimation of political leadership (i.e., political dysregulation).
Among the 392 empirical studies with the majority population, political disintegration
was never appraised as a threat, but was approached indirectly, by measuring political and
institutional distrust. However, 25 papers (6.4%) focused explicitly on threats of social
disintegration. This threat was observed in five papers on terrorism, like among residents of
the small Finnish community of Jokela after the 2008 shootings (Vuori, 2016); and three
papers on natural disasters, e.g., among fisherman villagers after the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil
spill in Alaska (Ritchie, 2012). Social disintegration threat was not observed in relation to
other infectious diseases. Yet, a number of studies focused on social disintegration in
response to the COVID-19 outbreak (n = 17), in particular fears of people’s irresponsibility
(e.g., Arpaci et al., 2020) and loss of national values (e.g., Kachanoff et al., 2020).
Threats Appraised by Ethno-racial and Immigrant Minorities
Among the total records selected, 66 out of 468 empirical papers (14.1%) examined
threat types experienced by ethno-racial and immigrant minority members. No systematic
literature reviews or meta-analyses were found instead. The review by Zeppegno et al.,
(2020) was an exception wherein they provided an exhaustive overview of the burden the
pandemic poses on vulnerable “outgroups”, like international migrant workers and homeless
A closer look at the empirical papers including ethno-racial or immigrant minorities
revealed that, 36 empirical papers compared the experiences of majority White with distinct
experiences of African Americans (n = 5), other ethno-racial minorities (e.g., Latinos, Asians,
and Arab Muslims, n = 21), or immigrants without host national citizenship (n = 10). Results
generally converged on showing that ethno-racial and immigrant minorities are at high risk of
experiencing all general types of threats (e.g., Anderson-Carpenter & Neal, 2021), like life
threat (n = 14), basic psychological needs frustration (n = 7), and livelihood and financial
concerns (n = 6). The remaining 30 empirical papers focused on ethno-racial or immigrant
minorities, such as African Americans (n = 4), other ethno-racial minorities (n = 12), and
immigrants (n = 14). Results showed that these groups experience additional specific threats
that are not reported by the national/White majority population. We grouped these additional
threats among ethno-racial and immigrant minorities around four main threat types, ranging
from most to least commonly reported threat appraisals (Figure 2).
Stigmatization and discrimination. Stigmatization and discrimination against
ethno-racial and immigrant minorities convey social identity threats leading to a range of
negative psychological outcomes (e.g., Major & O’Brien, 2005). As a result, emergencies and
their aftermath give rise to conditions under which stigmatization and discrimination against
ethno-racial and immigrant minorities are heightened (e.g., Demirtaş-Madran, 2020).
Among the 67 empirical studies focusing on ethno-racial and immigrant minorities,
50.7% (n = 34) assessed stigmatization and discrimination. These threats were observed in 13
papers on terrorism, e.g., among recent immigrants in Canada after the 9/11 attacks
(Rousseau et al., 2011); three papers on natural disasters, e.g., among Black American
Katrina survivors in New Orleans (Chen et al., 2007); and five papers on previous infectious
diseases, e.g., among people of Caribbean descent in the Netherlands (Stutterheim et al.,
2011). Similarly, stigma and discrimination were observed in 13 papers about the COVID-19
outbreak, e.g., among Asian Americans and Asian immigrants in the US (Wu et al., 2021).
Stress sensitization. Prior exposure to traumatic life events involves regulatory
feedback mechanisms that can negatively impact stress reactivity system functioning; a
process that has been termed stress sensitization (McFarlane, 2010). Stress sensitization
enhances perceptions of threat and reinforces negative interpretations of new stressful
situations (e.g., Dougall et al., 2000).
Given the migration perils, discrimination, and post-traumatic stress experienced by
certain ethno-racial and immigrant minorities, these groups may be particularly sensitive to
catastrophic events. Among the 67 papers that included ethno-racial and immigrant minority
perspectives, 4 (6%) focused on stress sensitization. This threat was observed in one paper on
terrorism, namely among refugees in the US exposed to the extensive media coverage of the
9/11 attacks (Kinzie, 2008); and in two papers on natural disasters, e.g., for non-EU
immigrants in the aftermath of the Enschede Firework Disaster in the Netherlands (Smid et
al., 2018). Stress sensitization threat was not observed in relation to other infectious diseases.
Yet, one empirical paper on COVID-19 reported that collective identity trauma among Arab
Muslims from many Middle Eastern countries reinforced the effect of COVID-19 traumatic
stress on death anxieties and lowered well-being (Kira, Shuwiekh, Alhuwailah et al., 2020).
Legal vulnerability. Ethno-racial minorities with national citizenship and immigrants
with stable residence permit are secured from legal vulnerability. Yet, uncertain legal status is
a threat that migrants with temporary, expiring, or irregular residence status are often faced
with (Elisabeth et al., 2020). Legal vulnerability has been known to be associated with fear,
anxiety, and guilt, related to a lack of access to resources and service providers, including
health services (e.g., Gonzales et al., 2013).
Among the 67 retained empirical studies that focused on ethno-racial and immigrant
minorities, three analyzed legal vulnerability as a specific threat (4.5%). This threat was
observed in two papers on terrorism, e.g., asylum seekers and refugees in the US fearing
arrest, detention, and deportation after the 9/11 attacks (Piwowarczyk & Keane, 2007); and
one paper on infectious diseases, namely Swedish legal immigrants being reluctant to seek
medical attention and HIV-screening (Kalengayi et al., 2012). We could not find any record
investigating legal vulnerability as a potential stressor for migrants facing the COVID-19
outbreak. Yet, fear of being reported to the immigration authorities and deported if they
sought assistance may have reduced willingness among undocumented migrants to come
forward for screening, contact tracing, or treatment (WHO, 2020).
Marginalization. The rift of social relations with close relatives and support networks
in their home country, cultural conflicts, and perceived incompatibilities, combined with
challenges to establish new relations in the receiving society, may result in isolation and
acculturative stress among ethno-racial and immigrant minorities (e.g., Yako & Biswas,
2014). By threatening social connectedness, self-worth, and identity continuity,
marginalization translates into psychological strains (e.g., Marinucci & Riva, 2020).
Limited work focused on the risks of marginalization among ethno-racial and
immigrant minorities during disasters and pandemics. This threat was assessed in 2 out of 67
papers (2.3%), in relation to terrorism and identity conflict, like among Muslim-American
youth in the wake of the 9/11 attacks (Sirin & Fine, 2007). We could not find any record
investigating rupture of transnational support networks during the COVID-19 outbreak,
particularly among newcomers and transit migrants. Yet, due to border closures, interruption
of family reunification procedures, and travel bans, these vulnerable groups may have been
cut off from all sources of social support (Politi & Roblain, 2021).
From Threat Appraisals to Intra- and inter-group Outcomes
Disasters and pandemic threats have far-reaching societal implications. In total, we
found 123 empirical papers (26.8%) that included outcomes relating to intra- and inter-group
processes. These outcomes were either conflictual or prosocial. In particular, 44 empirical
papers focused on terrorism, 26 investigated the role of natural disasters, 6 were conducted in
the context of past infectious diseases, and 47 were conducted in light of the COVID-19
epidemic. First, we will discuss the overall pattern of results of these studies, starting from
conflictual and moving to prosocial intra- and inter-group outcomes. Secondly, we will
highlight some additional gaps in the current state of the literature.
Conflict within and across group boundaries. In general, threat clues can breed
ethnocentrism and escalate violent inter-group conflict (e.g., Oswald, 2005); they can
exacerbate prejudice, discrimination and dehumanization, and spur support for authoritarian
governments and policies among the majority population (e.g., Green et al., 2010). People
also tend to endorse negative stereotypes of outgroups specifically in response to perceived
personal threat (Asbrock & Fritsche, 2013). Within group boundaries, external threats may
result in scapegoating and ostracism of deviant ingroup members (e.g., Marques, Paez, &
Abrams, 1998). The threat, in all of its forms, thus constitutes a potent ingredient for intra-
and inter-group conflict (Dhanani & Franz, 2021).
Natural disasters and pandemic diseases were often associated with increased inter-
group conflict, while evidence for intra-group conflict is lacking. Increases in prejudice and
discrimination against Muslim and immigrant communities have been repeatedly documented
in the aftermath of terrorist attacks (e.g., Van de Vyver et al., 2016). Yet, outgroup derogation
and ethnic prejudice may also spread from seemingly unconnected events, such as natural
disasters and pandemics (Kim & Chang, 2014). Negative inter-group consequences of natural
disasters and pandemics stem from several possible underlying processes, such as outgroup
blaming for spreading the disease (Zagefka, 2021), protection of ideological belief systems
(Fairlamb & Cinnirella, 2021), or perceived competition for restricted resources (Vezzali et
al., 2018).
Applied to the COVD-19 pandemic, anti-Asian prejudice triggered stigmatization of
Asian people and other minority groups (Tabri et al., 2020). Also, norm deviation was used to
justify outgroup derogation more than ingroup scapegoating (Van Assche et al., 2020).
Relatedly, increases in the desire for national cohesion and conformity during the pandemic
resulted in a strong rejection of sexual minorities (Golec de Zavala et al., 2020). These
findings suggest that positive inter-group relations and the rights of minorities may be at risk
during times of global emergences.
Prosociality within and across group boundaries. Threat avoidance mechanisms
that promote ingroup favoritism and outgroup derogation shed a pessimistic light on inter-
group relations. However, some 'silver lining' evidence suggests that threat appraisals may
enhance helping behaviors. In social environments that valued prosociality and supported
people’s basic needs for autonomy, belonging and competence, prosociality fulfilled an
adaptive threat regulation function (e.g., Jonas et al., 2014). Along those lines, post-traumatic
stress was found to be attenuated via increased compassion, empathy, and altruism (Tedeschi
et al., 1998).
Prosociality has been consistently observed in the face of natural disasters, like the
2012 Northern Italian earthquake (Andrighetto et al., 2016) and the 2004 Tsunami in South
Asia (Van Leeuwen, 2007). Jointly facing a disaster situation creates a sense of togetherness
that may translate into collective selfhood (Drury et al. 2009). Although, helping behaviors in
the aftermath of emergency situations was mostly examined in light of intra-
group prosociality, emerging social identities and empathic bonds with other survivors may
go beyond interpersonal helping within existing social networks and thus connect people
across social groups (Vollhardt & Staub, 2011).
In the context of the COVID-19 outbreak, “bonding” types of prosociality within
one’s own community (e.g., when you help your neighbor with groceries), and “bridging”
variants of prosociality, including vulnerable populations beyond one’s immediate in-group
(e.g., when you volunteer at a homeless shelter) were both connected with dispositional
factors, such as fulfilment of self-transcendence goals (Politi et al., 2020). Moreover,
outgroup helping was positively connected with contextual clues about the global emergency,
such as ingroup (instead of outgroup) blaming for the spreading of the virus (Zagefka, 2021).
The psychological impact of disasters and pandemic diseases has commonly been
assessed in terms of fears, worries and concerns. Our review, however, revealed some gaps in
the literature. Firstly, future investigations should focus more on long-lasting threats and
move beyond the immediate fear of virus transmission (for a similar point, see Coelho et al.,
2020). Indeed, some stressors may disappear quickly when restrictions are eased and
contamination is reduced, while other threatssuch as economic and social disruptions
may entail much longer periods of recovery. Moreover, most researched threats primarily
focus on the individual, while collective threats to the social fabric and political arrangements
need to be taken more into account. While some noticeable efforts to assess a broader variety
of threats in comprehensive scales have been made (e.g., Anderson et al., 2021; Mertens et
al., 2021), this literature review argues that measurements should be extended and refined to
capture a broader range of possible threat appraisals. Second, the review suggests additional
specific threats among ethno-racial and immigrant minorities as distinct from common threats
shared with the majority population. The review thus sheds light on the unequal
psychological impact of disasters on individuals and groups with different positions in the
wider society and future research may unravel the processes that account for these apparent
disparities in threat appraisals. Most likely, the intersectionality of unique and cumulative
pre-existing and incidental stressors among ethno-racial and immigrant minorities explains
their heightened sensitivity to common as well as distinct threats. Third, there is a need to
differentiate more general process from specific contents of situated threats appraisals
associated to ethno-racial and immigrant groups with and without host national citizenship
(see Romero, 2008).
As for intra- and inter-group outcomes, solid evidence has linked threat appraisals to
both conflict and prosociality, but some caution is warranted. First, only 56 out of 123 studies
(46%) measuring intra- and inter-group outcomes directly assessed ‘threat’, and only 44
(35.8%) specified the type of threat in their study. Though different sources of threat certainly
lead to different outcomes, a systematic examination of these differential effects is currently
lacking in the COVID-19 literature. As an exception, Nisa and colleagues found interactive
effects of life threat and livelihood and economic concerns on compliance with COVID-19
mitigation measures (Nisa et al., 2021). Second, only 12 out of 123 records on processes
related to intra- and inter-group outcomes (10%) included samples of ethno-racial or
immigrant minority members. As an exception, Andrighetto and colleagues found that
disaster exposure was negatively associated with outgroup helping intentions among national
majority members while it was positively associated with outgroup helping among immigrant
minorities (Andrighetto et al., 2016). The gaps revealed by our review calls for more
systematic investigation of different minority perspectives on inter-group conflict and bias
and prosociality in the face of global emergencies. Third, the explanatory leverage of
different sources of threats in terms of intra- and inter-group outcomes has unexplored
heuristic potential. While most research approached the COVID-19 pandemic in terms of life
threat, most likely different threat facets are connected to conflict and prosociality in ways
that are so far unknown.
Our systematic review suggests that extant knowledge falls short of covering the
broad spectrum of threats associated with the unprecedented COVD-19 pandemic. This
knowledge gap is only partially addressed by recent empirical advances in the study of threat
appraisals, as evidenced by the disproportionate scholarly focus on life threat and the scant
attention for other more long-lasting or more contextual threats to the personal and social self
and to group survival and social cohesion. As suggested by our review, more comprehensive
research effort should encourage situated and contextual approaches, shedding more light on
the vastly unequal psychological impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Relatedly, research
addressing intra- and inter-group outcomes in the face of pandemics or disasters should
incorporate a broader conceptualization of threat appraisals to enhance our understanding of
threat regulation. Rather than quantifying threat as a one-dimensional construct, it is essential
to disentangle the dynamic configurations of multiple threats at the intra-individual, intra-
group and inter-group level for a proper understanding of their contingent consequences.
The under-representation of perspectives from ethno-racial and immigrant minorities
in the study of threat appraisals and consequences in response to the pandemic is another
important gap evidenced by our systematic literature review. Not only does threat intensity
seem to be quantitatively greater amongst the members of various minorities, but the scope of
concern also seems to be qualitatively distinct in part and more diverse. Studying
perspectives from ethno-racial and immigrant minorities is crucial to identify distinct threats
and challenges to promote inclusive recovery plans and policies. Our call resonates with a
more general critique of the continuing predominance of people from Western, educated,
industrialized, rich and democratic (WEIRD) societies in psychology research (e.g.,
Muthukrishna et al., 2020). This imbalance has sustained a tendency to decontextualize
psychological processes and to overlook perspectives from subordinate groups and cultures
across the globe, thus hampering the potential social impact of psychological research in
response to global societal challenges. To advance evidence-informed understandings and
policies with a view to address stark inequalities in exposure, experience and outcomes of the
pandemic, it seems essential to value the diversity of populations of interest, while
considering participative approaches to actively involve underrepresented groups in the
research process. By better representing diversity of viewpoints, research would better
identify ways of living and coping cohesively with unprecedented challenges.
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Table 1.
Concepts and Terms used in the Search Strategies.
Constant Concept: Threat
Variable concept 1:
Individual threats
Variable concept 2:
Collective threats
Variable concept 3: Intra-
and inter-group outcomes
natural disaster OR
infectious disease OR
pandemic OR
terrorism OR
uncertainty OR
threat OR
fear OR
basic needs OR
symbolic threat OR
realistic threat OR
collective threat OR
intergroup threat OR
group cohesion OR
group survival OR
group integrity
ostracism OR
scapegoat OR
discrimination OR
stigmatisation OR
intergroup conflict OR
outgroup derogation OR
prosociality OR
solidarity OR
intergroup helping OR
altruism OR
empathy OR
intergroup trust OR
intergroup cooperation OR
intergroup competition
Notes: Three searches were conducted; each used the constant concept and one of the variables concepts.
Specifically, the threat context was used with variables concepts to target individual-level threats (Search 1),
collective-level threats (Search 2) or intra- and inter-group outcomes (Search 3).
Figure 1.
Flowchart for study selection process, concepts, and terms used in the search strategies
Note: Three searches were conducted, each using the constant concept and the none of the variables concepts.
Specifically, the threat context was used with variable concepts to target individual-level threats (Search 1),
collective-level threats (Search 2) or intra- and inter-group outcomes (Search 3). Phase 1 of screening involved
assessing for potential suitability using an automated process (Tricco et al., 2017). Phase 2 of screening involved
assessing eligibility for inclusion based on the full-text of the article
Records excluded
(n = 3,815)
Full-text articles
excluded (n = 780)
Final records included in synthesis
Empirical papers (n = 459)
Systematic reviews & meta-analyses (n = 9)
Published records identified through database
searching (n = 4,349)
Search 1: Individual threats (n = 3,337)
Search 2: Collective threats (n = 84)
Search 3: Intra- and inter-group outcomes (n = 928)
Phase 1: Records
screened (n = 5,064)
unpublished records
(n = 715)
Phase 2: Records
screened (n = 1,249)
Figure 2.
Empirical studies extracted from literature review and organized as a function of general and ethno-racial-immigrant-specific threat appraisals
Note: Frequencies pertaining to previous disasters and pandemics are reported in black on the bottom left, whereas frequencies pertaining to the current COVID-19 outbreak
are reported in grey on the top right of each histogram. Systematic reviews and meta-analyses were not included in the graph. Because many studies focused on several types
of threats in parallel, the total count exceeds the number of studies retained. For the sake of readability, generic threats are not reported separately for the majority population
and ethno-racial and immigrant minorities. For more details, see Table S1 in ESM.
Life threat and
mortality salience Basic psychological
needs frustration Livelihood and
financial concerns Social disintegration
and political
Number of studies
General threats
reported by both majority and ethno-racial and immigrant minorities
Previous disasters and pandemics Current COVID-19 outbreak
Stigma and
discrimination Stress sensitization Legal vulnerability Marginalization
Specific threats
reported uniquely by ethno-racial and immigrant minorities
10 59 956 817 21 13 313020
... COVID-19 has posed physical, economic, social, and psychological threats for individuals and communities, including threats to physical health and psychological security. Psychological perspectives can help inform understanding of responses to threat [18,19], and consequently provide support for restrictions put in place to reduce infection and transmission. Common restrictions that have been implemented worldwide include physical or social distancing, mandated wearing of masks, work-from-home orders, and limits on travel. ...
... Cultural values. Hofstede's dimensions of national culture were measured using the Individual Cultural Values Scale [78], an individual-difference level measure of five of the cultural dimensions using five subscales: Power Distance (5 items; e.g., "People in higher positions should not ask the opinions of people in lower positions too frequently"; score range 5-25); Uncertainty Avoidance (5 items; e.g., "Rules and regulations are important because they inform me of what is expected of me"; score range 5-25); Collectivism (6 items; e.g., "Individuals should only pursue their goals after considering the welfare of the group"; score range 6-30); Long-Term Orientation (6 items; e.g., "Going on resolutely in spite of opposition (Persistence)"; score range 6-30); and Masculinity (4 items, e.g., "It is more important for men to have a professional career than it is for women"; score range [4][5][6][7][8][9][10][11][12][13][14][15][16][17][18][19][20]. Indulgence versus Restraint, which was not included in the measure (this is a more-recently added dimension), was measured in the present study utilising 4 items based on those used in Hofstede's [79] Values Survey Module for national samples (e.g., "Keeping time for fun"). ...
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... Prolonged for weeks, and even for over 6 months (see Costabel, 2020 on the case of Argentina), these forms of containment have been associated with a deterioration in the population's mental health, although not in all contexts, and with strong disparities between social groups by age, gender, and socio-economic status. In particular, it has been reported that some critical features increase in the most vulnerable groups, for example, those with pre-existing mental health conditions, as well as in women, the economically under-privileged and the youngest (Bellotti et al., 2021;Daly et al., 2020;Kuhn et al., 2021;Mohler-Kuo et al., 2021;Politi et al., 2021;Singh et al., 2020). ...
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Two years after the first wave of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), one fact seems to be emerging clearly: lockdowns affect mental health differently across generations. This article uses data collected before and after the first wave of COVID-19 on a sample of 5,859 respondents, showing that the first lockdown worsened the mental health of the younger generations (Gen Y and Gen Z) in particular. Given that the older generations are considered the most vulnerable in this global pandemic, this may seem surprising. However, our data reveal that the pandemic outbreak raised very different concerns in different generations. While older people appear to be worried about the economy and their own health, younger people were more concerned about their lifestyles and, generally, their social relationships. This suggests that some of the mechanisms behind the exacerbation of younger people's mental health may lie at the intersection of these two issues. On one hand, a life lived essentially online undermines all those processes of social capital activation that occur through leisure and face-to-face encounters, from which Gen Z may have suffered in particular. On the other hand, not only has the pandemic added further uncertainty to Generation Y's career paths but working from home has also forced them to reorganize family routines and construct entirely new ones with colleagues using computers and smartphones. The article reflects on the upheavals of work and leisure to foster research on networks, social capital, and mental health in this period of a continuing pandemic.
... The novel coronavirus (COVID-19; henceforth referred to as COVID) was declared a pandemic on 11th March 2020, and its spread has exposed vulnerabilities of educational systems globally. Although COVID is a global health crisis-with its effects broadly felt in social, economic, and educational spheres of life and across many societies-it has disproportionately affected vulnerable groups (Kim & Bostwick, 2020;Politi et al., 2021), particularly culturally and linguistically diverse migrant and/or refugee (CALDMR) communities (Smith & Judd, 2020;Balakrishan, 2021). In Australia, communication about avoiding community transmission has been hindered in two states (Victoria and New South Wales) because of monolingual assumptions and misunderstandings about communicating with CALDMR communities, resulting in higher transmission rates in areas with high density of CALD populations (Jakubowicz, 2021;Seale et al., 2021;Wild et al., 2021). ...
... In line with this socio-functional approach -also adopted in some of the most influential theoretical frameworks in social psychology, e.g., Fiske (1992) or Cottrell and Neuberg (2005) -individuals' attitudes and emotions towards people or social objects are closely dependent on their perceived social reality. When facing the COVID-19 crisis, individuals will seek to understand the pandemic, to elaborate explanations for its causes, in order to minimize threats for themselves and their ingroup (Politi et al., 2021). We therefore expect that behaviors and attitudes towards these two modes of social regulation are related to people's perceptions of the causes that led to the crisis and, more specifically, the perception that the crisis is caused by insufficient compliance with health measures. ...
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The COVID-19 pandemic is a crisis which called for two crucial modes of social regulation: social control and social solidarity. In the present pre-registered study, we examine how the perceived non-compliance with health measures relates to attitudes towards these modes of social regulation, as well as to the role played by the perception of disintegrated and disregulated society (anomie). Using data from an online cross-sectional survey conducted in Belgium in April 2020 (N = 717), results show that the causal attribution of the crisis to insufficient compliance was differentially associated with support for social control and social solidarity behaviours. Specifically, greater attribution to insufficient compliance was associated with a perceived breakdown in the social fabric (disintegration), which explained stronger support for social control and fewer solidarity-based actions. Perceived disregulation, conversely, was associated with less support for social control and more support for social solidarity. Therefore, the perception of the pandemic and associated perceived anomie tend to polarize citizens' attitudes towards these two modes of social regulation. In this way, prosocial behaviours might be inhibited by communications that attribute the pandemic's causes to incivility. Other implications of our findings for the social psychological literature on communities' reactions to the pandemic are discussed. Please refer to the Supplementary Material section to find this article's Community and Social Impact Statement.
... Thus, according to our findings, activating the disease threat among people may lead them to adopt recommended measures. However, this can also lead to counterproductive reactions such as denial, anxiety, increased risk behavior or, as observed in our study, adherence to false beliefs, such as group avoidance strategies [45,46] which disrupt social cohesion [47]. A meta-analysis conducted on the use of fear appeals in health campaigns found that this counterproductive effect can be reduced by giving people the confidence that they are able to perform the recommended behavior [48]. ...
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Objectives: To explore how perceived disease threat and trust in institutions relate to vaccination intent, perceived effectiveness of official recommendations, and to othering strategies. Methods: We conducted a cross-sectional survey of Swiss adults in July 2020. Outcome variables were vaccination intent, perceived effectiveness of official recommendations and othering strategies (labelling a given social group as responsible for the disease and distancing from it). Independent variables were perceived disease threat, trust in various institutions, perceived health-related measures, and sociodemographic variables. Linear and logistic regressions were performed. Results: The response rate was 20.2% (1518/7500). Perceived disease threat and trust in medical/scientific institutions were positively associated with vaccination intent and perceived effectiveness of official recommendations for coronavirus mitigation measures. Only disease threat was associated with a perception of effectiveness among othering strategies. Age and education levels were associated with vaccination intent. Conclusion: Reinforcing trust in medical/scientific institutions can help strengthen the perceived effectiveness of official recommendations and vaccination. It however does not prevent adherence to ineffective protecting measures such as othering strategies, where decreasing perceptions of epidemic threat appears to be more efficient.
... Above and beyond individual and collective threats already evidenced in previous studies (Brooks et al., 2020;Politi et al., 2021), thematic analysis revealed that one third of teachers were concerned about school and teaching-related aspects. These results echoed Kim and Asbury (2020)'s findings on English teachers engaged in distance learning. ...
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In the context of the Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, teachers faced unprecedented challenges and threats while implementing distance learning. Consequently, teachers may have experienced emotional exhaustion. The aim of our study was threefold: To explore teachers' threat appraisals, to investigate the relation between teachers' threat appraisals and their emotional exhaustion, and to examine processes protecting teachers from emotional exhaustion. Self-efficacy belief, especially, may have driven teachers' perceptions of distance learning as an opportunity (i.e., distance learning strengths), rather than an impediment (i.e., distance learning weakness) to teaching. During the first wave of COVID-19, Italian teachers (N = 1,036) filled in an online survey. A mixed-method design was used to address our three research aims. Findings indicated that, above and beyond other COVID-19 threats, one third of teachers reported worries, fears, and concerns related to their job (i.e., job-related threats). Furthermore, those who mentioned job-related threats experienced greater emotional exhaustion. Finally, teachers' self-efficacy was related to lower emotional exhaustion both directly and indirectly via teachers' perceptions of distance learning. Indeed, distance learning weaknesses (but not distance learning strengths) mediated the negative relationship between self-efficacy and emotional exhaustion. Altogether, our findings encourage reflection on possible interventions to reduce teachers' job-related threats and help them navigate distance learning effectively. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2021 APA, all rights reserved).
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Spatiotemporal patterns and trends of COVID-19 at a local spatial scale using Bayesian approaches are hardly observed in literature. Also, studies rarely use satellite-derived long time-series data on the environment to predict COVID-19 risk at a spatial scale. In this study, we modelled the COVID-19 pandemic risk using a Bayesian hierarchical spatiotemporal model that incorporates satellite-derived remote sensing data on land surface temperature (LST) from January 2020 to October 2021 (89 weeks) and several socioeconomic covariates of the 140 neighbourhoods in Toronto. The spatial patterns of risk were heterogeneous in space with multiple high-risk neighbourhoods in Western and Southern Toronto. Higher risk was observed during Spring 2021. The spatiotemporal risk patterns identified 60% of neighbourhoods had a stable, 37% had an increasing, and 2% had a decreasing trend over the study period. LST was positively, and higher education was negatively associated with the COVID-19 incidence. We believe the use of Bayesian spatial modelling and the remote sensing technologies in this study provided a strong versatility and strengthened our analysis in identifying the spatial risk of COVID-19. The findings would help in prevention planning, and the framework of this study may be replicated in other highly transmissible infectious diseases.
Popular models on the threat–politics association suggest that threats cause right-wing political preferences. Failed replications, crossnational variation, and examples of threats causing left-wing preferences suggest this relationship is more complicated. We introduce a model of the reciprocal threat–politics relationship that reconciles prior conflicting findings and raises new questions.
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Building up on pre-existing vulnerabilities and social exclusions, refugees and migrants are disproportionately suffering from the negative effects of the COVID-19 outbreak. Insecure legal status is an additional stressor that may accentuate social cleavages and ultimately impair their trust in host society and institutions. Based on a diverse sample of refugees and migrants in Belgium (N = 355), the present study investigates direct and indirect effects of legal status—measured as the type of residence permit held by participants—on social and political trust during the COVID- 19 outbreak. Secured legal status was positively associated with social and political trust directly, and indirectly via a serial mediation composed by two cumulative stages. First, participants with a more secured legal status experienced less material difficulties to cope with the pandemic (i.e., first material stage). Second, participant who experienced less material difficulties identified more with the host society (i.e., second symbolic stage). In turn, reduced material difficulties and increased identification with the host society were both positively associated with social and political trust. Our findings advocate for securing legal status of refugees and migrants to help societies cope cohesively with the long-lasting effects of the COVID- 19 outbreak.
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This paper examines whether compliance with COVID-19 mitigation measures is motivated by wanting to save lives or save the economy (or both), and which implications this carries to fight the pandemic. National representative samples were collected from 24 countries (N = 25,435). The main predictors were (1) perceived risk to contract coronavirus, (2) perceived risk to suffer economic losses due to coronavirus, and (3) their interaction effect. Individual and country-level variables were added as covariates in multilevel regression models. We examined compliance with various preventive health behaviors and support for strict containment policies. Results show that perceived economic risk consistently predicted mitigation behavior and policy support—and its effects were positive. Perceived health risk had mixed effects. Only two significant interactions between health and economic risk were identified—both positive.
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Since the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), several reports have shown that fear relating to COVID-19 has sharply increased. To measure fear of COVID-19, various questionnaires have been developed in parallel. However, fear concerning COVID-19 is not necessarily a uniform construct and the different questionnaires may cover diverse aspects. To examine the underlying structure of fear of COVID-19, we conducted structural equation modelling and network analyses on four scales in an online convenience sample (N = 829). Particularly, the Fear of COVID-19 Scale (Ahorsu et al., 2020), the Fear of the Coronavirus Questionnaire (Mertens et al., 2020), and the COVID Stress Scales (Taylor, Landry, Paluszek, Fergus et al., 2020, Taylor, Landry, Paluszek, Rachor et al., 2020) were included in our study, along with a new scale that also assessed socio-economic worries relating to COVID-19. We found that fear of COVID-19 was best classified into four clusters: Fear of health-related consequences, fear of supplies shortages and xenophobia, fear about socio-economic consequences, and symptoms of fear (e.g., compulsions, nightmares). We also find that a central cluster of items centered on fear of health, which likely represents the core of fear of COVID-19. These results help to characterize fear due to COVID-19 and inform future research.
Technical Report
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This UNHCR funded analytical report was aimed at a) understanding the main stressors experienced by refugees and migrants during the virus outbreak; b) identifying how to overcome the virus outbreak via social support and community building. Based on our findings, we urge local authorities and service providers to a) address side effects of the pandemic in terms of lack of livelihood opportunities, access to labor market and housing problems among refugee communities; b) increase refugees’ social capital via the consolidation of bonding ties among refugees communities and bridging ties between refugee communities and Belgian society; c) consider the additional stressors experienced by individuals with precarious legal status or without residence permit; d) foster dialogue between established refugee representative groups and key institutional and organisational stakeholders.
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Background The novel 2019 SARS2-Coronavirus (COVID-19) has had a devastating physical health, mental health, and economic impact, causing millions of infections and hundreds of thousands of deaths. While COVID-19 has impacted the entire world, COVID-19 has disproportionately impacted low-income countries, particularly in South America, causing not only increased mortality but also increased associated mental health complaints. Anxiety sensitivity (AS), reflecting fear of anxiety-related physical sensations, may be particularly important to understand COVID-19 mental health effects among Latinx individuals in South America (Argentina). Past work suggests that Latinx individuals report greater somatization of mental health symptoms, and AS has been specifically linked to greater mental health symptoms. Yet, to date, no work has examined AS as a vulnerability factor for the negative mental health effects of COVID-19. Method Therefore, the current manuscript examined the association of AS with COVID-19 worry, functional impairment, anxiety, and symptom severity across two samples of adults in Argentina: a community sample (n = 105, Mage = 38.58, SD = 14.07, 69.5% female) and a clinical sample comprised of individuals with an anxiety disorder (n = 99, Mage = 34.99, SD = 10.83, 66.7% female). Results Results from the current study provide support for AS as a potential vulnerability factor for COVID-19-related mental health problems across both samples, and these effects were evident over and above the variance accounted for by age, sex, pre-existing medical conditions, and COVID-19 exposure. Conclusions These data identify AS as a potential intervention target to reduce COVID-19 mental health burden among adults in Argentina.
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In this article, we consider how, due to a spike in anti-Asian hate crimes, Asians might face a disproportionate mental health impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Analyzing data from the University of Southern California’s Center for Economic and Social Research Understanding Coronavirus in America survey, we report several findings. First, since the onset of the pandemic, Asians (Asian Americans in particular) have experienced higher levels of mental disorders than whites. Second, Asian Americans and Asian immigrants are about twice as likely as whites to report having encountered instances of COVID-19-related acute discrimination. Third, experiences of COVID-19-related discrimination increase mental disorders for all Americans. Finally, COVID-19-related discrimination partially explains the disproportionate mental health impact of the pandemic on Asians. In conclusion, we highlight the importance of tackling hate, violence, and discrimination so as to address the disproportionate mental health impacts of COVID-19 on minority populations.
The coronavirus disease-2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has caused physical and mental health problems among individuals around the world. Recent studies have reported various mental health problems among both health-care workers and the general population. In this metaanalysis, evidence is provided concerning the relationships between the Fear of COVID-19 Scale. The fear of COVID-19 scale: Development and initial validation. International Journal of Mental Health and Addiction] – the most widely used, translated, and validated scale and mental health problems including, anxiety, stress, depression, distress, post-traumatic stress, and sleep problems among the general population. We searched for relevant studies on Web of Science, Google Scholar, PubMed, and ERIC databases and conducted a metaanalysis with selected studies in accordance with the inclusion criteria. A total of 33 studies met the inclusion criteria. The results demonstrated that fear of COVID-19 was strongly related to anxiety (r=0.55, n=19,578), traumatic stress (r=0.54, n=8,752), distress (r=0.53, n=11,785) as well as being moderately related to stress (r=0.47, n=4,340) and depression (r=0.38, n=23,835). The correlation with insomnia (r=0.27, n=2,114) was modest. These results demonstrate that fear of COVID-19 is associated a wide range of mental health problems among the general population.
The COVID-19 pandemic has triggered a notable increase in the expression of prejudicial and xenophobic attitudes that threaten the wellbeing of minority groups and contribute to the overall public health toll of the virus. However, while there is evidence documenting the growth in discrimination and xenophobia, little is known about how the COVID-19 outbreak is activating the expression of such negative attitudes. The goal of the current paper therefore was to investigate what aspects of the COVID-19 pandemic may be contributing to this rise in expressions of prejudice and xenophobia. More specifically, this study used an experimental design to assess the effects of using stigmatized language to describe the virus as well as the threat to physical health and economic wellbeing posed by the virus on COVID-19 prejudice. Data were collected from a national sample of 1,451 adults residing within the United States. Results from 2 x 2 x 2 between-subjects analyses of covariance demonstrated that emphasizing the connection between China and COVID-19, rather than framing the virus neutrally, increased negative attitudes toward Asian Americans, beliefs that resources should be prioritized for Americans rather than immigrants, and general xenophobia. Emphasizing the severity of the economic impact of the virus also increased beliefs that Asian Americans are a threat to resources and general xenophobia. By contrast, messages which emphasized the serious health risks of COVID-19 did not increase racism or xenophobia. Our findings suggest that specific types of public health messaging related to infectious diseases, especially framing the virus in terms of its country of origin or its likely economic impact, may elicit prejudice and xenophobia. Public health campaigns that emphasize the severity of the virus, however, are not likely to trigger the same negative attitudes. Implications for public health responses to health crises are discussed.
Two studies tested predictors of helping across national boundaries. British participants reported blame attributions for the coronavirus crisis, either to the British government (ingroup blame), or to the Chinese government (third party outgroup blame), and it was tested whether this was associated with intentions to donate money to help outgroup members suffering from effects of the coronavirus crisis in the world's poorer countries. It was hypothesized that strength of identification with the national ingroup would be negatively associated with blame attributions to the ingroup, and that it would be positively associated with blame attributions to a third party outgroup. Blame attributions were predicted in turn to be related to outgroup helping, with ingroup blame being positively associated with helping intentions, and third party outgroup blame being negatively associated with helping intentions. Support for these predictions were found in one exploratory (N = 100) and one confirmatory (N = 250) study.
In response to the COVID-19 outbreak, sustainable forms of collective resilience help societies coping cohesively with unprecedented challenges. In our empirical contribution, we framed collective resilience and cohesion in terms of prosociality. A study carried out in the midst of the COVID-19 outbreak in the UK (N = 399) articulated basic individual values, ideological orientations (i.e., authoritarianism and social dominance orientation), and core political values in a comprehensive framework to predict bonding and bridging forms of prosocial intentions, and prosocial behaviors directed towards vulnerable groups. According to our findings, people whose worldview incorporates collective and collaborative principles cared more about others' welfare. Jointly, self-transcendence, equality, and accepting immigrants predicted more prosociality, whereas social dominance orientation predicted less prosociality. Over and beyond all other predictors, self-transcendence uniquely predicted prosocial intentions and behaviors alike. To conclude, we suggest interventions to promote and sustain prosociality among people motivated by a larger array of life goals and worldviews.