The reason behind the difference between people who easily adhere to coronavirus protocols and those who would rather oppose safety measures may have been unearthed by researchers from Brazil. The main culprit could be the antisocial traits of a number of individuals.

A study published in the Personality and Individual Differences journal, conducted by researchers from the State University of Londrina and Sao Francisco University found that people with antisocial personality disorder are more likely to break rules, which might just explain their propensity not to follow protocols. People with these traits normally exhibit hostility, deceitfulness, higher risk-taking behaviour, and callousness.

The researchers analysed 1,578 Brazilian adults aged 18-73, over a span of 15 weeks, from May 21 to June 29. They were made to answer questions about following containment measures. They evaluated the respondents' scores in different behaviour traits.

The researchers elaborated on the questionnaire to elicit responses relative to measures applied by authorities during the pandemic. The three main areas they questioned were those related to social distancing, hygiene, and face mask use. The researchers asked whether it is a necessity to avoid approaching people, to wash hands with alcohol or sanitiser, or to use face masks.

The answers to the questionnaire showed the behavioural traits of the respondents. Among all the behaviours that they exhibited, the researchers found that those who have lower levels of empathy are more prone to resist compliance measures. The same low compliance was ascertained by researchers in respondents who showed deceitfulness, callousness, and risk-taking.

The authors also found that those who have empathic behaviours, such as social responsibility and social trust, were associated with a higher degree of compliance to measures like isolation, less hoarding, and hygiene. Persons who fall under the "dark triad traits," which include psychopathy, Machiavellianism, and narcissism, were found to be less likely to follow isolation measures and to accept restrictions.

Beachgoers on South Korea's most popular holiday island Jeju defied coronavirus warnings Monday, with hundreds taking to the shores the day after the government closed beaches nationwide. Photo: AFPTV / Daniel DE CARTERET

The authors noted that their findings confirm the association between the personality traits of individuals and their ability to adhere to containment measures. They also said that the results of their study could be useful for public health policies like screenings that would demonstrate an increased level of these traits. That way, proper intervention may be carried out that would aim to bring greater awareness and consequently, better compliance with containment measures.