Research Article

Public perception of risk and coping response to COVID-19 in China: The moderating role of negative emotion

Published in: Journal of Psychology in Africa
Volume 31, issue 2, 2021 , pages: 117–123
DOI: 10.1080/14330237.2021.1903167
Author(s): Yongtao Gan, China, Jing Zhang, China, Zhiyue Quan, China


This study investigated the moderating role of negative emotion on risk perception and risk response during the COVID-19 pandemic. We administered a survey to 1 452 participants from six provinces in China (female = 72. 4%; mean age = 33. 5 years; SD = 13. 72 years; age range = 17 to 69 years). The participants completed the COVID-19-related Risk Perception Scale (CRPS), the Negative Affect Scale (NAS), and the Coping Response to COVID-19 Scale (CRCS). COVID-19-related risk perception (CRP) and negative emotions primarily predicted two categories of coping behaviour (positive-response behaviour and risk-taking behaviour). High COVID-19-related risk perception scores reinforced positive-response behaviour and weakened risk-taking behaviour. High negative emotion scores accentuated risk perception and risk-taking behaviour, whereas lower negative emotion scores decreased risk-taking behaviour. Negative emotion significantly moderated both positive-response behaviour and risk-taking behaviour in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. Policy makers must consider the role of negative emotion in shaping public coping responses in disaster situations.

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