The successful implementation of measures aimed at reducing the number of people infected with COVID-19 crucially depends on public acceptance of these measures. The authors of this study show that it is not gender or age but psychological variables, such as trust and worldviews, that strongly influence people’s risk perceptions and acceptance of the measures. They are able to show these effects in both cross-sectional and longitudinal study designs. Since the acceptance of implemented measures crucially depends on whether they are in line with people’s values and worldviews, the latter two variables are as relevant as epidemiological facts for successful risk management.
Certainly, epidemiological evidence should be taken into account when planning risk management strategies related to COVID-19. Particularly during the early stages of a pandemic, when public risk perception is high, a fast response is necessary. However, sustained public acceptance becomes increasingly important in the case of an ongoing pandemic, and risk-management strategies must not be only influenced by epidemiologists because they are not in a position to decide which tradeoffs should be made by society. The present study’s results demonstrate the importance of worldviews and beliefs for the acceptance of measures.