Individuals who demonstrate higher levels of psychological entitlement – the belief that they deserve more than others – indicated noncompliance with the health guidelines of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a new paper co-authored by Emily Zitek, associate professor of organizational behavior in the ILR School.
In “Psychological Entitlement Predicts Noncompliance with the Health Guidelines of the COVID-19 Pandemic,” published Oct. 29 in Personality and Individual Differences, Zitek and co-author Rachel Schlund, a doctoral student in the field of organizational behavior, used three studies to add to the growing body of research on how personality and individual differences relate to attitudes and behaviors during the pandemic.
The results showed that entitled individuals were less likely to report that they were following, or would follow, the health guidelines of the COVID-19 pandemic, and they were more likely to report that they had contracted COVID-19.
“Their noncompliance,” the authors wrote, “seemed to be most likely due to their lessened concern about harming others and their increased belief that the threat of the virus was overblown (Study 2), and appealing to their self-image concerns did not increase their compliance (Study 3).”
Zitek said prior research has shown that entitlement can put people at risk for “psychological distress,” including anger and dissatisfaction. The new study takes that a step further.
“We have now shown that entitled beliefs can also put people at risk for physical harm when they ignore the health guidelines of the COVID-19 pandemic,” she said. “Entitled people strongly want good things to happen to them and yet their refusal to follow the health guidelines is causing them to be at risk of contracting COVID-19.”
In all three studies, participants were asked to complete the Psychological Entitlement Scale, the most commonly used measure of the entitlement disposition, as well as the Ten-Item Personality Inventory, indicating whether certain characteristics such as “sympathetic and warm” described them.
Julie Greco is a communications specialist with the ILR School.