A Bay of Plenty professor has unveiled a link between lockdown and trust in governments in a global survey he played a key part in.
University of Waikato academic Dr Taciano Milfont played a key role in analysing the Covidistress global survey, which gathered data from participants across the globe in the early months of the pandemic last year.
He analysed the international study researching human experience, behaviour and attitudes towards the Covid-19 pandemic.
The survey took responses from 173,429 people in 48 countries, including New Zealand, and looked at psychological responses across different countries and cultures and how this affected behaviour.
They found those who were stressed were less compliant with regulations, because of a variety of factors including the strictness of protective measures, social support and personal lockdown conditions.
"We measured stress and worry - concern about Covid - and we found as you'd expect, if people are concerned they feel stressed," Milfont said.
"But in terms of compliance with government actions, we found they relate differently. So people who were more concerned lead to more compliance, but not stress. If you're high in stress you're less compliant."
Another research finding was that if people were too stressed they felt trapped, helpless or hopeless.
People who were worried about getting sick worked harder to protect themselves and others at the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, but it wasn't just concern that affected people's response to the global lockdowns. Milfont said.
Those most concerned about Covid-19 trusted government measures mostly where policies were strict, the survey also found.
"Research on the lockdowns implemented in Western Europe in March and April concurrently found an association between lockdowns and greater trust in
government, political support for the governing party, and democratic satisfaction," the report read.
"[This] suggesting that lockdowns are indeed generally popular among citizens in well-functioning democracies and may feel reassuring to citizens concerned over the progression of the disease; similar effects on trust were also observed in New Zealand."
But the notable finding from the survey was the association between stress and trust in the government's efforts which linked to another research paper Milfont co-authored showing trust and confidence in the New Zealand Government increased during the 2020 lockdown.
"We looked at the first 18 days of lockdown to compare people's level of psychological stress to before lockdown.
"Our results showed that, in New Zealand, under the conditions of a strong and cohesive national response, people were more likely to lean on and trust their politicians, scientists, police and communities and ultimately more likely to comply with the lockdown and health guidelines."
The research aimed to investigate how psychological responses differ across countries and cultures, and how this has affected behaviour, coping and trust in government efforts to slow the spread of the virus.
It also aimed to understand relationships between psychological responses in the early months of global Covid restrictions and help understand how different government measures succeed or fail in changing public behaviour.