417 Optimistic Bias and COVID-19

Research by Park, Taehwan, Ju, Ilwoo, Ohs, Jennifer, & Hinsley, Amber (2020)

Written by Robin N. Fatovic B.S.

When you see someone else experiencing a tragedy, have you ever thought “that would never happen to me”? Optimistic bias occurs when people think that their level of risk is lower than others.’

Researchers, through an online survey, studied the impact of optimistic bias on preventative COVID-19 behaviors of 290 participants. These preventative behaviors included discussing the risks, taking preventative actions, and intending to seek information about the virus from others.

Results? The researchers found that people who felt more fear and anxiety about the virus tended to engage in more preventative behaviors. However, those with more optimistic bias believed that they were less likely to become infected by the virus. They did not experience as much fear; thus, were less likely to seek information on prevention. And were more at risk.

Do not let optimistic bias delude you about the real risks of COVID-19. Seek science-based information about the virus from reliable sources. Visit www.cdc.gov to stay up to date on the latest safety guidelines to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Protect yourself and others who may be at risk: take precautions. Wear a mask.It’s a sign you care about others. Let’s work together—flatten the curve and stop the spread!


Park, T., Ju, I., Ohs, J. E., & Hinsley, A. (2020). Optimistic bias and preventive behavioral engagement in the context of COVID-19. Research in Social and Administrative Pharmacy. doi:10.1016/j.sapharm.2020.06.004

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