Using social and behavioural science to support COVID-19 pandemic response

Jay J.Van Bavel, Katherine Baicker, Paulo S. Boggio, Valerio Capraro, Aleksandra Cichocka, Mina Cikara, Molly J. Crockett, Alia J. Crum, Karen M. Douglas, James N. Druckman, John Drury, Oeindrila Dube, Naomi Ellemers, Eli J. Finkel, James H. Fowler, Michele Gelfand, Shihui Han, S. Alexander Haslam, Jolanda Jetten, Shinobu KitayamaDean Mobbs, Lucy E. Napper, Dominic J. Packer, Gordon Pennycook, Ellen Peters, Richard E. Petty, David G. Rand, Stephen D. Reicher, Simone Schnall, Azim Shariff, Linda J. Skitka, Sandra Susan Smith, Cass R. Sunstein, Nassim Tabri, Joshua A. Tucker, Sander van der Linden, Paul van Lange, Kim A. Weeden, Michael J.A. Wohl, Jamil Zaki, Sean R. Zion, Robb Willer

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

3197 Scopus citations


The COVID-19 pandemic represents a massive global health crisis. Because the crisis requires large-scale behaviour change and places significant psychological burdens on individuals, insights from the social and behavioural sciences can be used to help align human behaviour with the recommendations of epidemiologists and public health experts. Here we discuss evidence from a selection of research topics relevant to pandemics, including work on navigating threats, social and cultural influences on behaviour, science communication, moral decision-making, leadership, and stress and coping. In each section, we note the nature and quality of prior research, including uncertainty and unsettled issues. We identify several insights for effective response to the COVID-19 pandemic and highlight important gaps researchers should move quickly to fill in the coming weeks and months.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)460-471
Number of pages12
JournalNature Human Behaviour
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1 2020
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Social Psychology
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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