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What drives compliance with COVID-19 measures over time? Explaining changing impacts with Goal Framing Theory
Regulation & Governance  (IF5.4),  Pub Date : 2021-10-07, DOI: 10.1111/rego.12440
Frédérique Six, Steven de Vadder, Monika Glavina, Koen Verhoest, Koen Pepermans

The COVID-19 pandemic provides a unique opportunity to study which factors drive compliance and how the evolving context in society –virus fluctuations and changing government measures – changes the impact of these factors. Extant literature lists many factors that drive compliance – notably enforcement, trust, legitimacy. Most of these studies, however, do not look across time: whether a changing context for citizens changes the impact of factors driving compliance. In this study, we use Lindenberg's Goal Framing Theory to explain the dynamics of these drivers of compliance during the COVID-19 pandemic. We formulate hypotheses for pro-socialness, trust in government, observed respect for rules, rule effectiveness, rule appropriateness, fear of COVID-19 (severity and proximity), opportunities for pleasure and happiness, as well as worsened income position. We test our hypotheses with data collected at three different moments during the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis in Flanders, Belgium. Findings show that over time the constellations of factors that drive compliance change and, later in the pandemic, more distinct groups of citizens with different motivations to comply are identified. The overall conclusion is that the voluntary basis for compliance becomes more fragile over time, with a more differentiated pattern of drivers of compliance emerging. Public policy and communication need to adapt to these changes over time and address different groups of citizens.