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Compliance with Covid-19 social-distancing measures in Italy: the role of expectations and duration

We study how intentions to comply with the self-isolation restrictions introduced in Italy to mitigate the Covid-19 epidemic respond to the length of their possible extension. Based on a survey of a representative sample of Italian residents (N=894), we find that respondents are more likely to express the intention to reduce, and less willing to increase their self-isolation effort if negatively surprised by a given hypothetical extension, i.e. if the extension is longer than what they expected. These intentions are stronger among respondents who reported high compliance with the isolation prescriptions. In a context where individual compliance has collective benefits, but full enforcement is costly and controversial, communication and persuasion have a fundamental role. Our findings provide insights to public authorities on how to manage people’s expectations in public health emergencies that require prolonged lockdown measures. We will continue to monitor people’s responses as measures are extended.

Lead investigator:

Guglielmo Briscese


University of Chicago

Primary topic:

Attitudes, media & governance

Region of data collection:


Country of data collection


Status of data collection

In Progress

Type of data being collected:

From private company

Unit of real-time data collection


Start date


End date




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