Share article:
Share article:

Tendency to obey social rules diminishes with time

© Belga

The motivation to obey the strict rules of the current confinement is likely to go down the longer the situation lasts, according to a study carried out by the university of Ghent.

The measures introduced in mid-March – most retail stores closed, the population told to remain at home unless absolutely necessary, teleworking wherever possible, bars and restaurants closed – have had the intended effect, as shown by the latest figures on hospitalisations.

However, the study suggests, the longer those protective measures are maintained, the less effective they are likely to be. People make their major effort at the start. But as time goes on, and the vast majority of the population remains unaffected by the virus, the preventive effect begins to be felt less and less.

As time goes on, people begin to feel the measures have been successful, and the time has come to relax.

The motivation to respect the measures diminishes gradually, among the young and not so young,” said professor in developmental psychology Maarten Vansteenkiste. “The cause is probably the duration of the confinement. Our attention tends to relax after about four weeks.”

Another contributing factor is the seeming endlessness of the situation. The government has set a limit of 19 April, with the possibility of extending that deadline until 3 May, and there are few people who believe that later deadline will not be adopted.

The situation remains unclear, the study points out.

When will the schools resume, or the colleges and universities? When will people be able to go back to work as usual? The government of Sophie Wilmès, which was given special powers to deal with the situation, has made a point of not setting a time limit on the powers it has adopted.

Sooner or later, and in practice the issue will arise sooner, the government will be required to set a deadline for when its special powers expire.

Faced with this developing situation, the government’s crisis team has launched a new campaign to revive what may be the flagging determination of the public to respect the social distancing measures.

If we want to make the best of the summer in a month or two, we have to hold fast now,” said Benoit Ramacker of the crisis team at the daily press briefing.

We have to stay together. Stay at home and keep on taking care of each other,” the message goes.

Alan Hope
The Brussels Times

Latest news

Increase in number of people ‘asking King for mercy’ through royal pardons
More and more people living in Belgium have been seeking royal pardons, mainly for fines, largely as a result of it now being possible to send in ...
England now accepting cheaper Covid tests from fully vaccinated travellers
Fully vaccinated travellers who enter England from non-red countries will only be required to book a lateral flow test to take following their ...
Re-introducing face masks indoors considered as Covid-19 situation worsens
Belgium's council of ministers will hold an emergency meeting on Monday to discuss the worsening epidemiological situation, and reintroducing face ...
Federal museums to receive €2.9 million booster shot
Federal museums will receive an additional €2.9 million in support from the government for the fiscal year 2021, of which the first payouts will be ...
European Parliament emphasises healthy food and animal welfare in EU Farm to Fork Strategy
The European Parliament adopted this week a resolution on the EU Farm to Fork Strategy calling for a fair, healthy and environmentally-friendly food ...
Threats of strike action could affect Brussels’ STIB network from Monday
Brussels public transport operator STIB's trams, buses and metros could be affected from Monday 25 October onwards as the union representing the ...
Number of international adoptions in Belgium continues to drop
The number of regulated international adoptions authorised by Belgium further dropped in 2020, continuing an ongoing decreasing trend. Last ...
Disaster drill with emergency services held at Brussels Airport
Around 300 people took part in a disaster drill held was organised on Saturday by Brussels Airport in collaboration with external emergency services ...
Austria presents bill to legalise euthanasia
Austria’s government on Saturday presented its proposals for legalising assisted suicide, in response to a Constitutional Court ruling that the ...
Brussels’ Museum Night Fever draws in some 12,000 visitors
Some 12,000 participants took part in the 14th edition of Museum Night Fever in Brussels, with the 29 participating museums filled to the maximum ...
Relaunch of 10,000 steps campaign to get Flemish people moving
The Flemish government is breathing new life into its 10,000 steps campaign to get people in the region moving after a recent survey found that a ...
‘No scientific basis’ for giving everyone third dose, vaccine expert says
The head of Belgium's Vaccination Taskforce has argued that there is not enough scientific evidence to support the Flemish government's decision to ...