Global Consciousness Predicts Behavioral Responses to the COVID-19 Pandemic: Empirical Evidence From 35 Cultures

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  • Sylvia Xiaohua Chen
  • Jacky Chi Kit Ng
  • Bryant Pui Hung Hui
  • Algae K.Y. Au
  • Ben C.P. Lam
  • Wesley C.H. Wu
  • Ngai Pun
  • Peter Beattie
  • Christian Welzel
  • James H. Liu

COVID-19 has drastically changed human behaviors and posed a threat to globalism by spurring a resurgence of nationalism. Promoting prosocial behavior within and across borders is of paramount importance for global cooperation to combat pandemics. To examine both self-report and actual prosocial behavior, we conducted the first empirical test of global consciousness theory in a multinational study of 35 cultures (N = 18,171 community adults stratified by age, gender, and region of residence). Global consciousness encompassed cosmopolitan orientation, identification with all humanity, and multicultural acquisition, whereas national consciousness reflected ethnic protection. Both global consciousness and national consciousness positively predicted perceived risk of coronavirus and concern about coronavirus, after controlling for interdependent self-construal. While global consciousness positively predicted prosocial behavior in response to COVID-19, national consciousness positively predicted defensive behavior. These findings shed light on overcoming national parochialism and provide a theoretical framework for the study of global unity and cooperation.

Original languageEnglish
JournalSocial Psychological and Personality Science
Issue number5
Pages (from-to)662-671
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - 01.06.2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The author(s) disclosed receipt of the following financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article: This project was supported by the funding for Project of Strategic Importance of The Hong Kong Polytechnic University (1-ZE1L) and Dean’s Reserve (P0031087). The data that support the findings of this research are available from the authors upon reasonable request.

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2022.

    Research areas

  • COVID-19, global consciousness, national consciousness, prosocial behavior, xenophobia
  • Politics