Posted by & filed under Altruism Prosocial Behaviour, Attitude Formation Change, Personality, Persuasion, Social Psychology.

Description: What sorts of people resist Covid-19 related health guidelines such as mask wearing, the use of hand sanitizer when entering public spaces and limits of social gatherings? Ok, Ok, I suspect you may have a few choice words to use in your response to that question but hang on a moment. Understanding more about people who are not inclined to follow public health guidelines during our current pandemic, rather than writing them off with a stream of negative descriptors, could be an important part of coming up with more effective ways to increase compliance with public health guidelines and thus reduce the impact of the current (and future) pandemic(s). Psychology researchers have started to look at this question. Would it surprise you to hear that one of the points of focus in this research is the concept or the subjective dimension of entitlement? That word gets tossed around a lot these days in the media but pause for a moment and think about what it might involve and an individual difference dimension. What would it involve? How would it influence how people react and response to Covid-19 public health guidelines and how might a better understanding of what entitlement involves help us improve overall compliance with public health guidelines? Once you have your hypotheses sorted out have a read through the two articles linked below that discuss recent Psychological research into entitlement and Covid-19 related public health guideline compliance (or the lack thereof).

Source: Psychological entitlement products non-compliance with COVID-19 health guidelines, study finds, Eric Dolan, PsyPost. And Psychological entitlement linked to defiance of COVID-19 rules via perceptions of unfairness, study finds, Eric Dolan, PsyPost.

Date: March 1, 2021

Photo Credit:  Photo by Skylar Kang from Pexels

Article Link:


So, how does the basic definition of entitlement work for you? “A personality characteristic whereby an individual feels more deserving of positive outcomes than other people.” Perhaps that feels a bit to reductionistic, by which I mean that like the old research on instincts it may not be helpful to name a new instinct, or in this case, a new personality dimension, to explain any observed patterns of social behavior. This may be true but, consider the piles of research on the Just World hypothesis that is built on the research documented tendency for us to hold tightly to the idea that bad things happen to bad people and as such bad things will not happen to us (good people). It is a small step from that mindset to the more individually focused concept of entitlement and the ways it may be seen to play out for individuals in the context of the set of global threats that make up the Covid-19 pandemic. Perhaps entitled behavior is primarily self-defensive behavior. Though it is not simple as noted by the researchers who found that telling people high on entitlement that they could reduce their risk by complying with public health guidelines. An interesting and important problem to ponder as the pandemic is not over and who know when there might be another and behavior that seem to reflect entitlement will not go away by themselves.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What is entitlement and how do we recognize it when we see or hear it socially?
  2. How do high levels on entitlement influence people’s observance of public health guidelines?
  3. What sorts of interventions or approaches might reduce the influence of entitlement and increase adherence with public health guidelines? Are there things that could be done at a general social level rather than trying to find and change entitled individuals>

References (Read Further):

Zitek, E. M., & Schlund, R. J. (2020). Psychological entitlement predicts noncompliance with the health guidelines of the COVID-19 pandemic. Personality and individual differences, 110491. Link

Li, H. (2021). Follow or not follow?: The relationship between psychological entitlement and compliance with preventive measures to the COVID-19. Personality and Individual Differences, 174, 110678. Link

Kittel, B., Kalleitner, F., & Schiestl, D. W. (2021). Avoiding a public health dilemma: Social norms and trust facilitate preventive behaviour if individuals perceive low COVID-19 health risks. Link

Lee, A., Schwarz, G., Newman, A., & Legood, A. (2019). Investigating when and why psychological entitlement predicts unethical pro-organizational behavior. Journal of Business Ethics, 154(1), 109-126. Link

Lange, J., Redford, L., & Crusius, J. (2019). A status-seeking account of psychological entitlement. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 45(7), 1113-1128. Link

Hart, W., Tortoriello, G. K., & Richardson, K. (2019). Deprived and grandiose explanations for psychological entitlement: Implications for theory and measurement. Journal of personality assessment. Link

Zitek, E. M., & Jordan, A. H. (2019). Psychological entitlement predicts failure to follow instructions. Social Psychological and Personality Science, 10(2), 172-180. Link

Holderness Jr, D. K., Olsen, K. J., & Thornock, T. A. (2017). Who are you to tell me that?! The moderating effect of performance feedback source and psychological entitlement on individual performance. Journal of Management Accounting Research, 29(2), 33-46. Link