Worry about COVID-19 is an important cognitive component and manifestation of COVID-19-related anxiety. It has a social dimension and is shaped by various social factors.
We employ original data from a large survey (N = 20,632) conducted in China from April 21 to 23, 2020, which provide us with a rare opportunity to investigate COVID-19-induced worry among ordinary Chinese citizens.
We find individuals’ socioeconomic status, family characteristics, sense of community, and perceived strictness of lockdown measures all have significant influences on worry about COVID-19.
First, individuals with higher socioeconomic status such as better education, better income, and more prestigious occupations have richer resources in coping with COVID-19 and are thus less worried. Second, the high human-to-human transmissibility of COVID-19 and increased family obligations during the pandemic imply that larger family size can be a worry-inducing burden. Individuals living with larger families are more worried. Third, a greater sense of community lowers worry as it buffers against the stressor and may enhance individuals’ faith in the community’s efficacy in containing the virus. Last, stringent lockdown measures may actually have positive psychological effects. They provide real and perceived protection and increase individuals’ perceived distance from the disease, thereby reducing public worry.

Copyright © 2021 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.