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Survival of the fittest in the pandemic age: Introducing disease-related social Darwinism

  • COVID-19 was a harsh reminder that diseases are an aspect of human existence and mortality. It was also a live experiment in the formation and alteration of disease-related attitudes. Not only are these attitudes relevant to an individual’s self-protective behavior, but they also seem to be associated with social and political attitudes more broadly. One of these attitudes is Social Darwinism, which holds that a pandemic benefits society by enabling nature “to weed out the weak”. In two countries (N = 300, N = 533), we introduce and provide evidence for the reliability, validity, and usefulness of the Disease-Related Social Darwinism (DRSD) Short Scale measuring this concept. Results indicate that DRSD is meaningful related to other central political attitudes like Social Dominance Orientation, Authoritarianism and neoliberalism. Importantly, the scale significantly predicted people’s protective behavior during the Pandemic over and above general social Darwinism. Moreover, it significantly predicted conservative attitudes, even after controlling for Social Dominance Orientation.

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Author:Paul NachtweyORCiD, Eva Walther
Parent Title (English):PLoS ONE
Publisher:Public Library of Science (PLoS)
Place of publication:San Francisco
Document Type:Article
Date of completion:2023/03/22
Date of publication:2023/03/22
Publishing institution:Universität Trier
Contributing corporation:The publication was funded by the Open Access Fund of Universität Trier and the German Research Foundation (DFG)
Release Date:2023/12/08
Volume (for the year ...):2023
Issue / no.:Band 18, Heft 3
Number of pages:20
Institutes:Fachbereich 1 / Psychologie
Dewey Decimal Classification:1 Philosophie und Psychologie / 15 Psychologie / 150 Psychologie
Licence (German):License LogoCC BY: Creative-Commons-Lizenz 4.0 International

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