The Interplay of Social, Emotional and Cognitive Factors of Risk Perception and Engagement in Precautionary Behaviors during COVID-19 Lockdown (4.0) in India

Kirti Tyagi


To handle the pandemic of COVID-19, global health authorities are trying to identify factors that influence people’s behavioral patterns to engage in preventive measures. The present study examines the predictors of precautionary behaviors by adopting a socio-emotional-cognitive model of risk perception and provides a descriptive picture of people’s risk perception and precautionary behaviors during COVID19 lockdown in India. This was a cross-sectional online survey study, where data was collected from 203 participants in the age group of 18-67 years from different covid active zones of India using convenient sampling. The descriptive findings indicated that Indians displayed high participation in various precautionary behaviors (e.g., social distancing, washing hands, others) high level of awareness about the disease’s spread and symptoms, and high-risk perception (e.g., high perceived psychological vulnerability, disease severity, & personal impact). The participants also displayed a moderate to high level of worry towards the pandemic, with a moderate level of trust in the government’s ability to fight the pandemic. On the other hand, a significant positive relationship was observed between risk severity, perceived personal risk impact (cognitive factor) and level of anxiety towards pandemic (affective factor) and between the level of awareness (cognitive factor) and engagement in precautionary behaviors. However, only cognitive factors of risk perception (e.g., perceived psychological invulnerability & awareness about the diseases) were found out to be significant predictors for engagement in precautionary behaviors. Therefore, the present study emphasizes how health agencies should focus on creating risk messages that increase people’s estimation of personal risk and awareness towards the virus in order to raise community’s engagement in precautionary behaviors.


Keywords: Risk Perception, Precautionary Behaviors, COVID19



World Health Organization, “Archived: WHO Timeline - COVID-19,” [Online]. Available: [Accessed: 28-April-2020].

M. L. Holshue et al., “First case of 2019 novel Coronavirus in the United States,” New England Journal of Medicine, vol. 382, no. 10, pp. 929–936, 2020.

World Health Organization, “Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) Situation Report – 132” [ May, 2020] [online]. Available [Accessed May 2020]

T. Pederson, “Where are we, a century after the ‘Spanish flu’?,” The FASEB Journal, vol. 32, no. 5, pp.2317–2318, 2018.

World Health Organization, “Report of the WHO-China Joint Mission on Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19)”, 2020 [Online]. Available

E. Levenson, “Here’s how the novel coronavirus outbreak unfolded,” CNN, 03-Apr-2020. Retrieved from

S. Dryhurst et al., “Risk perceptions of COVID-19 around the world,” Journal of Risk Research, vol. 23, no. 7–8, pp. 994–1006, 2020.

J. Gettleman and K. Schultz, “Modi orders 3-week total lockdown for all 1.3 billion Indians,” The New York times, The New York Times, 24-Mar-2020.

A. Ward, “India’s coronavirus lockdown and its looming crisis, explained,” Vox, 24-Mar-2020. [Online]. Available: [Accessed: 09-Sep-2020].

C. Huang et al., “Clinical features of patients infected with 2019 novel coronavirus in Wuhan, China,” The Lancet, vol. 395, no. 10223, pp. 497–506, 2020.

Y.-R. Guo et al., “The origin, transmission and clinical therapies on coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) outbreak - an update on the status,” Military Medical Research, vol. 7, no. 1, p. 11, 2020.

N. Sharma, S. Prabhu, and D. Ghosh, “Lockdown for 2 more weeks. What will be different now: 10 points,” [Online]. Available: [Accessed:09-Sep-2020].

World Health Organization, “Advice for the public on COVID-19 – World Health Organization,”, 2020. [Online]. Available:[Accessed: 09-Sep-2020].

M. Khosravi, “Perceived risk of COVID-19 pandemic: The role of public worry and trust,” Electronic Journal of General Medicine, vol. 17, no. 4, p. em203, 2020.

G. J. Rubin, R. Amlôt, L. Page, and S. Wessely, “Public perceptions, anxiety, and behaviour change in relation to the swine flu outbreak: cross sectional telephone survey,” BMJ, vol. 339, no. jul02 3, p. b2651, 2009.

H. Seale et al., “The community’s attitude towards swine flu and pandemic influenza,” Medical Journal of Australia, vol. 191, no. 5, pp. 267–269, 2009.

H. H. Balkhy, M. A. Abolfotouh, R. H. Al-Hathlool, and M. A. Al-Jumah, “Awareness, attitudes, and practices related to the swine influenza pandemic among the Saudi public,” BMC Infectious Diseases, vol. 10, no. 1, p. 42, 2010.

J. H. Jones and M. Salathé, “Early assessment of anxiety and behavioral response to novel swine-origin influenza A(H1N1),” PLOS ONE, vol. 4, no. 12, p. e8032, 2009.

S. K. Kamate, A. Agrawal, H. Chaudhary, K. Singh, P. Mishra, and K. Asawa, “Public knowledge, attitude and behavioural changes in an Indian population during the Influenza A (H1N1) outbreak,” The Journal of Infection in Developing Countries, vol. 4, no. 01, pp. 007–014, 2009.

R. Goodwin, S. Haque, F. Neto, and L. B. Myers, “Initial psychological responses to Influenza A, H1N1 (‘Swine flu’),” BMC Infectious Diseases, vol. 9, no. 1, p. 166, 2009.

Y. Ibuka, G. B. Chapman, L. A. Meyers, M. Li, and A. P. Galvani, “The dynamics of risk perceptions and precautionary behavior in response to 2009 (H1N1) pandemic influenza,” BMC Infectious Diseases, vol. 10, no. 1, p. 296, 2010.

B. J. Cowling et al., “Comparative epidemiology of pandemic and seasonal influenza A in households,” New England Journal of Medicine, vol. 362, no. 23, pp. 2175–2184, 2010.

W. van der Weerd, D. R. Timmermans, D. J. Beaujean, J. Oudhoff, and J. E. van Steenbergen, “Monitoring the level of government trust, risk perception and intention of the general public to adopt protective measures during the influenza A (H1N1) pandemic in The Netherlands,” BMC Public Health, vol. 11, no. 1, p. 575, 2011.

C. S. K. Tang and C.-Y. Wong, “An outbreak of the severe acute respiratory syndrome: predictors of health behaviors and effect of community prevention measures in Hong Kong, China,” American Journal of Public Health, vol. 93, no. 11, pp. 1887–1888, 2003.

J. J. Van Bavel et al., “Using social and behavioural science to support COVID-19 pandemic response,” Nature Human Behaviou, vol. 4, no. 5, pp. 460–471, 2020.

D. L. Floyd, S. Prentice-Dunn, and R. W. Rogers, “A meta-analysis of research on protection motivation theory,” Journal of Applied Social Psycholology, vol. 30, no. 2, pp. 407–429, 2000.

R. W. Rogers, “A protection motivation theory of fear appeals and attitude Change1,” The Journal of Psychology, vol. 91, no. 1, pp. 93–114, 1975.

G. Prati, L. Pietrantoni, and B. Zani, “A social-cognitive model of pandemic influenza H1N1 risk perception and recommended behaviors in Italy: A social-cognitive model of pandemic influenza H1N1,” Risk Analysis, vol. 31, no. 4, pp. 645–656, 2011.

G. Prati and L. Pietrantoni, “Knowledge, risk perceptions, and xenophobic attitudes: Evidence from Italy during the Ebola outbreak: Knowledge, risk perceptions, and xenophobic attitudes,” Risk Analysis, vol. 36, no. 10, pp. 2000–2010, 2016.

S. van der Linden, “The social-psychological determinants of climate change risk perceptions: Towards a comprehensive model,” Journal of Environmental Psychology, vol. 41, pp. 112–124, 2015.

Ministry of Home Affairs. Extension of Lockdown for a further period of Two Weeks with effect from May 4, 2020 [Online]. Available: [Accessed: 09-Sep-2021]

E. T. Online, “Lockdown extended by 2 weeks, India split into red, green and orange zones,” Economic Times, 01-May-2020. [Online]. Available:[Accessed: 09-NOV-2020].

D. K. Lapsley and P. L. Hill, “Subjective invulnerability, optimism bias and adjustment in emerging adulthood,” Journal of Youth and Adolescence, vol. 39, no. 8, pp. 847–857, 2010.

T. Wise, T. D. Zbozinek, G. Michelini, C. C. Hagan, and D. Mobbs, “Changes in risk perception and self-reported protective behaviour during the first week of the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States,” Royal Society Open Science, vol. 7, no. 9, p. 200742, 2020.

“MoHFW,” [Online]. Available:[Accessed: 09-Sep-2020].

Ministry of Home Affairs, “Extension of Lockdown up to May 31, 2020”, 10-MAY-2020, [Online]. Available:

Y. Lin et al., “Knowledge, attitudes and practices (KAP) related to the pandemic (H1N1) 2009 among Chinese general population: a telephone survey,” BMC Infectious Disease, vol. 11, no. 1, p. 128, 2011.

K. O. Kwok et al., “Community responses during early phase of COVID-19 epidemic, Hong Kong,” Emerging Infectious Diseases, vol. 26, no. 7, pp. 1575–1579, 2020.

G. Ferrante, S. Baldissera, P. F. Moghadam, G. Carrozzi, M. O. Trinito, and S. Salmaso, “Surveillance of perceptions, knowledge, attitudes and behaviors of the Italian adult population (18-69 years) during the 2009-2010 A/H1N1 influenza pandemic,” European Journal of Epidemiology, vol. 26, no. 3, pp. 211–219, 2011.

J. T. F. Lau, S. Griffiths, K. C. Choi, and H. Y. Tsui, “Widespread public misconception in the early phase of the H1N1 influenza epidemic,” Journal of Infection, vol. 59, no. 2, pp. 122–127, 2009.

D. Roy, S. Tripathy, S. K. Kar, N. Sharma, S. K. Verma, and V. Kaushal, “Study of knowledge, attitude, anxiety & perceived mental healthcare need in Indian population during COVID-19 pandemic,” Asian Journal of Psychiatry, vol. 51, no. 102083, p. 102083, 2020.

J. Everts, “Announcing swine flu and the interpretation of pandemic anxiety,” Antipode, vol. 45, no. 4, pp. 809–825, 2013.

J. Li, S. Chen, L. Zhu, W. Zhang, “Investigation of knowledge of prevention and control and psychological anxiety about H1N1 influenza among college students in a university, Zhengzhou”, Modern Prevention Medicine, vol.38, pp.3036–3042, 2011.

I. S. Kristiansen, P. A. Halvorsen, and D. Gyrd-Hansen, “Influenza pandemic: perception of risk and individual precautions in a general population. Cross sectional study,” BMC Public Health, vol. 7, no. 1, p. 48, 2007.

A. S. Abdelhafiz et al., “Knowledge, perceptions, and attitude of Egyptians towards the novel Coronavirus disease (COVID-19),” Journal of Community Health, vol. 45, no. 5, pp. 881–890, 2020.

M. Malesza and M. C. Kaczmarek, “Predictors of anxiety during the COVID-19 pandemic in Poland,” Personality and Individual Differences, vol. 170, no. 110419, p. 110419, 2021.

T. P. Oyetunji, O. A. Ogunmola, T. T. Oyelakin, O. F. Olorunsogbon, and F. O. Ajayi, “COVID-19-related risk perception, anxiety and protective behaviours among Nigerian adults: a cross-sectional study,” Journal of Public Health, pp. 1–9, 2021.

J. Brug, A. R. Aro, A. Oenema, O. de Zwart, J. H. Richardus, and G. D. Bishop, “SARS risk perception, knowledge, precautions, and information sources, the Netherlands,” Emerging Infectious Diseases, vol. 10, no. 8, pp. 1486–1489, 2004.

G. M. Leung et al., “The impact of community psychological responses on outbreak control for severe acute respiratory syndrome in Hong Kong,” Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health, vol. 57, no. 11, pp. 857–863, 2003.

Y. Ding et al., “Risk perception of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) and its related factors among college students in China during quarantine,” PLOS ONE, vol. 15, no. 8, p. e0237626, 2020.

A. Bish and S. Michie, “Demographic and attitudinal determinants of protective behaviours during a pandemic: a review,” British Journal of Health Psychology, vol. 15, no. Pt 4, pp. 797–824, 2010.

A. Rahman and N. J. Sathi, “Knowledge, attitude, and preventive practices toward COVID-19 among Bangladeshi internet users,” Electronic Journal of General Medicine, vol. 17, no. 5, p. em245, 2020.

S. K. Iorfa et al., “COVID-19 knowledge, risk perception, and precautionary behavior among Nigerians: A moderated mediation approach,” Frontiers in Psychology, vol. 11, p. 566773, 2020.

C. Rudisill, “How do we handle new health risks? Risk perception, optimism, and behaviors regarding the H1N1 virus,” Journal of Risk Research, vol. 16, no. 8, pp. 959–980, 2013.

J. Yap, V. J. Lee, T. Y. Yau, T. P. Ng, and P.-C. Tor, “Knowledge, attitudes and practices towards pandemic influenza among cases, close contacts, and healthcare workers in tropical Singapore: a cross-sectional survey,” BMC Public Health, vol. 10, no. 1, p. 442, 2010.

J.-F. Deng et al., “Severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS): knowledge, attitudes, practices and sources of information among physicians answering a SARS fever hotline service,” Public Health, vol. 120, no. 1, pp. 15–19, 2006.



  • There are currently no refbacks.

International Journal of Public Health Science (IJPHS)
p-ISSN: 2252-8806, e-ISSN: 2620-4126

View IJPHS Stats

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.