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New research from Brazil has found that people who are unconcerned with adhering to measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 tend to display higher levels of traits associated with antisocial personality disorder, also known as sociopathy.
To our knowledge, this is the first study focused on COVID-19 compliance with the containment measures and antisocial traits to be conducted in a large Latin American sample using a repeated cross-sectional design.”
In the online study, 1,578 Brazilian adults completed a measure of maladaptive personality traits between May 21 and June 29, 2020. They also completed assessments of empathy and compliance with COVID-19 containment measures.
The researchers found that those who scored higher on measures of callousness, deceitfulness, hostility, impulsivity, manipulativeness, and risk-taking tended to be less compliant with COVID-19 containment measures, such as socially distancing, washing hands frequently, and wearing a facemask in public. Participants with greater empathy, on the other hand, tended to be more compliant with COVID-19 containment measures.
Our findings can be useful for public health policies, e.g., through screenings that demonstrate an elevation in these traits, interventions can be carried out aiming at greater awareness and consequent compliance with containment measures.