Regulatory Behavior in the COVID-19 Pandemic: How to Get Students to Comply with It?



Regulatory Behavior in the COVID-19 Pandemic: How to Get Students to Comply with It? Objective. Determine the targets and methods of psychological and pedagogical work that aimed increasing the specific normativity of students' behavior during the COVID-19 pandemic, in particular, on compliance with the mask regime. Background. Due to the situation with COVID-19 pandemic many countries all over the world, including in Russia, introduced the number of tough measures which restricted the behavior and interaction of people. The study focuses on such acute issues as the attitudes of different social groups toward both the disease itself and the measures to combat it, clarification of the reasons and motivations for individuals’ compliance/non-compliance with normative behavior during the pandemic. The coronavirus pandemic actualizes the problems of providing practical psychological assistance to people, including young people, who experience stress and who have difficulties with coping with this situation. Study design. The study was conducted during the increasing spread of the disease and the introduction of an isolation regime. The data obtained was analyzed with reference to the time of the research participants’ questionnaire completion: the first group of students filled the Google forms from 9th to 23rd November 2020 (stage 1); the second group — from 24th November to 8th December 2020 (stage 2). The research analyzed students’ social representations of the pandemic and measures to combat it; peculiarities of attitudes toward various aspects of COVID-19 and toward the normative behavior of young people during the pandemic; subjective experience of danger of the disease and the dominant coping strategies associated with them. Participants. 565 undergraduate students from various faculties of the Moscow State University of Psychology and Education (MGPPU): 504 females, 61males. Measurements. Anonymous survey included closed questions; method of prototypical analysis of social representations (P. Verges); Self-perceived flexible coping with stress (SFCS); The Fear of COVID-19 Scale; SPSS Statistics 20 package (contingency tables with the calculation of the Pearson χ2 test, Spearman's correlation coefficient, Kruskal-Wallis and Friedman tests). Results. Students showed a diverse and often controversial views on COVID-19 and ways prevent its spread. At the core of social representations of the pandemic and protective masks, the most popular are those that reflect the personal restrictions imposed by the pandemic, the inconvenience and displeasure resulted from the compliance with these restrictions . To a smaller extent, there is a fear of getting sick. There are practically no social representations associated with concern over other people, that express a pro-social position. In relation to the mechanisms of compliance with restrictive measures, the opinions of students are heterogeneous: some support the introduction of strict restrictions and consider it rational to have strict external control, while others believe that the fulfillment of sanitary and epidemiological requirements should be an independent decision of a person. The study found the predominant choice of situational and multiple coping strategies by students in response to the emergence of the pandemic situation and the relationship between these types of coping with low level of subjective fear. Nevertheless, with the deterioration of the pandemic situation, students' assessments of the means of informing about COVID-19 and strategies to combat it changed: at the first stage of the study students considered specialists (doctors, scientists) as a reference group, at the second stage — parents and close circle. Social media turned out to be the most insignificant source of information. Main conclusions. The data obtained make it possible to identify the main targets of psychological and pedagogical work with students and to determine the main methods of this work which should include the activity-based inclusion in the solution of group tasks aimed at optimizing the life of people in a pandemic. According to the results of the study, a group of students stood out with a high level of fear experience (32%) and a tendency to non-constructive ways of coping. These students require targeted psychological assistance. As an illustration of the active involvement of students to the problem of COVID prevention, the article describes a competition of creative works of different directions organized by the Faculty of Social Psychology of Moscow State University of Psychology and Education on the topic medical masks use in the context of the "Marathon of Masks" pandemic.

General Information

Keywords: social representations, students, COVID-19, normative behavior in the pandemic, coping strategies, Self-perceived flexible coping with stress (SFCS), the fear of COVID-19.

Journal rubric: Applied Research and Practice

Article type: scientific article


For citation: Krushelnitskaya O.B., Marinova T.Y., Pogodina A.V., Raskhodchikova M.N., Tolstykh N.N. Regulatory Behavior in the COVID-19 Pandemic: How to Get Students to Comply with It?. Sotsial'naya psikhologiya i obshchestvo = Social Psychology and Society, 2021. Vol. 12, no. 1, pp. 198–221. DOI: 10.17759/sps.2021120113. (In Russ., аbstr. in Engl.)



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Information About the Authors

Olga B. Krushelnitskaya, PhD in Psychology, Associate Professor, Head of the Department of Theoretical Foundations of Social Psychology, Moscow State University of Psychology and Education, Moscow, Russia, ORCID:, e-mail:

Tatiana Y. Marinova, PhD in Biology, Associate Professor, Dean of the Faculty of Social Psychology, Moscow State University of Psychology and Education, Moscow, Russia, ORCID:, e-mail:

Alla V. Pogodina, PhD in Psychology, Associate Professor, Head of Management Psychology Chair, Department of Social Psychology, Moscow State University of Psychology and Education, Moscow, Russia, ORCID:, e-mail:

Marina N. Raskhodchikova, PhD in Psychology, Associate Professor, Chair of Theoretical Foundations of Social Psychology, Faculty of Social Psychology, Moscow State University of Psychology and Education, Moscow, Russia, ORCID:, e-mail:

Nataliia N. Tolstykh, Doctor of Psychology, Professor, Division Head of the Social Psychology of Development, Moscow State University of Psychology and Education, Editor-in-Chief of the International Scientific Publication Social Psychology and Society, Moscow, Russia, ORCID:, e-mail:



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