Psychol Belg 61 (1) 224-237 [2021-07-23; online 2021-07-23]
This article explores how emotions connected to the Government's handling of the Covid-19 outbreak in Sweden relates to behaviors to stop the spread of the virus, and which emotions functions as mediators in this relationship. The Swedish approach to handling the outbreak greatly differed from how many other Western European countries handled the situation and thus makes an important case to study. In a large representative survey (N = 2449), we found that satisfaction with how the Government handled the situation was related to more positive and less negative emotions. Anxiety, compassion and pride mediated the effect of satisfaction on compliance with the national recommendations such that anxiety and compassion increased compliance, while pride decreased it. Importantly though, satisfaction increased compassion and pride, but only compassion led to more compliant behaviors. In fact, satisfaction was indirectly related to less compliant behaviors via anxiety and pride. Shame mediated the effect on the tendency to wear face masks, a behavior that was explicitly not endorsed by the Swedish Public Health Agency. We speculate if the face mask, which was intensely debated, became a politicized symbol of dissatisfaction with the Swedish approach. In sum, it seems that individuals who were dissatisfied with how the government handled the Covid-19 outbreak were in fact engaging more in health-promotional behaviors to stop the spread of the virus.