A receptionist at Senayan City mall in South Jakarta wears a mask and a face shield. (JG Photo/Yudha Baskoro)

You Might Be a Narcissist or a Psychopath If You Ignore Covid-19 Health Protocol


JUNE 11, 2020

Jakarta. A study in the United States has shown that people who keep refusing to comply with public health guidelines to prevent the spread of Covid-19 might have the so-called "Dark Triad" of personality traits – narcissism, Machiavellianism and psychopathy.

"Psychopathy and, to some extent, narcissism and Machiavellianism, predict not only antisocial tendencies but also various health behaviors and outcomes," Pavel S. Blagov, the researcher of the study and director of the Personality Laboratory at Whitman College said.


The study analyzed over 500 respondents in the United States in March. It measures their acceptance to the public health guidelines – whether they social distance, wear protective gear or follow basic hygiene.

Though most of the respondents did comply with the local and World Health Organization health protocol, some did not.

Blagov found the non-compliant respondents showed tendencies that could be linked to dark personality traits.

The respondents who showed disinterest in the health protocol scored higher on the psychopathic sub-traits – meanness and disinhibition.

"People scoring high on these traits tended to claim that, if they had Covid-19, they might knowingly or deliberately expose others to it," Blagov told PsyPost.

"It was clear from reports in the media very early in the pandemic that some people were rejecting advice to socially distance and engage in increased hygiene. I thought that personality might play at least a small role in it," Blagov told PsyPost.

People with "prosocial traits" are likely to support and promote social distancing and good hygiene. While those with "antagonistic traits" are likely to promote harm to other people's health and to be less cooperative in following Covid-19 preventive measures.

According to Blagov's study, the latter tend to act contrary to public health recommendations. They show less inhibition to risk other people's safety during a pandemic such as by not covering themselves when sneezing or coughing in public, touching communal facilities, not staying at home, not keeping their distance from other people and don't wash their hands frequently.

The study suggests that personality traits might be a factor in understanding the infectious respiratory disease.

However, the scope of the study is still limited as it only took samples from adults in the US. The health behavior measures used in the study also have not been tested.

Blagov stressed that the research does not necessarily mean people who got infected with Covid-19 have these dark personality traits.

Closer to home, despite repetitive warnings from the government, not everyone in Indonesia, including the capital Jakarta, has been following the Covid-19 health protocol.

During Ramadan and Idul Fitri in May, many were seen flocking to markets wearing no protective gear.

Many others defied government restrictions and went out of the city for mudik trips, which the government feared would increase the risk of spreading the virus in smaller towns and villages.

A study has also categorized Indonesia as a moderately unsafe country during the pandemic, scoring near the bottom of the list in government efficiency, quarantine efficiency and emergency preparedness.