Social isolation and the mitigation of coronavirus anxiety: The mediating role of meaning

Milman E.,
Lee S.A.,
Neimeyer R.A.
Document Type
Source Title
Death Studies


This study examined core belief violation and meaning making as mechanisms mediating the relationship between adherence to social isolation policies for mitigating coronavirus transmission and reduced coronavirus anxiety (CA). Adherence to social isolation policies (social distancing, sheltering in place, and cessation of long-distance travel), use of nonsocial precautionary measures (handwashing, wearing a mask), core belief violation, meaning made of the COVID pandemic, and CA were assessed in a sample of 408 North Americans. Process analysis revealed that adhering to social isolation policies predicted lower levels of CA and that this effect was largely mediated by conservation of core beliefs (e.g., in predictability, control, and self-agency) and ability to make meaning of the pandemic. In contrast, exclusive reliance on nonsocial protections such as handwashing and mask wearing was associated with high levels of CA. These results suggest that social isolation policies support the integrity of adherents’ meaning systems, thereby mitigating distress, which carries useful implications for both policy and psychological intervention. © 2020, © 2020 Taylor & Francis Group, LLC.

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