Miura, A., Murayama, A., & Kitamura, H. (2024).

Miura, A.(三浦麻子), Murayama, A.(村山綾), & Kitamura, H.(北村英哉) (2024).
Behind the mask: Analyzing the dual influence of social norms on pandemic behavior in Japan.
Japanese Psychological Research. (Early View)

This study examines the relationship between social norms and mask-wearing behavior during the COVID-19 pandemic in Japan from two distinct normative perspectives: injunctive norms (governmental recommendations) and descriptive norms (observed behavior in others). Data were collected from a panel survey of Japanese residents from February to October 2023. Contrary to the study’s hypothesis, which was based on system justification theory, no significant relationship was found between system justification motivation and individual mask-wearing rates, either before or after the relaxation of governmental rules in March 2023. Additionally, a cross-lagged panel model analysis conducted after the rule relaxation indicated a relationship between descriptive norms (societal estimates of mask-wearing rates) and individual behavior. However, the influence of descriptive norms on individual mask-wearing behavior was not as pronounced as was anticipated. The study highlights the complexities in the interplay between societal norms and individual behavior in public health crises, underscoring the importance of considering various factors, including cultural predispositions.