Antisocial Traits Associated with Poor Shelter-in-Place Compliance

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Individuals with antisocial traits explain, at least partially, the reason why some continue to not adhere to COVID-19 containment measures.

Antisocial traits such as callousness, lack of empathy, and deceitfulness are associated with lower levels of compliance to COVID-19-related stay-at-home orders according to a recent study out of Brazil for Personality and Individual Differences.

To control the spread of COVID-19, health departments worldwide have implemented containment measures such as mask-wearing, frequent hand-washing, disinfection of materials, stay-at-home or “shelter-in-place” orders, as well as lockdowns. Compliance with those measures varies between individuals.

At the time researchers conducted the study, cases in Brazil were on the rise, with “controversial and sparse local support” for containment measures. In this context, researchers assessed antisocial behaviors and containment compliance. They believe it is the first study on COVID-19 containment compliance and antisocial traits using a large Latin American sample.

The sample consisted of 1,578 adults aged 18 to 73. To measure behavior traits, researchers used Personality Inventory for DSM-5 and the Affective and Cognitive Measure of Empathy self-report scales, and a questionnaire about engagement behaviors and COVID-19 containment measures.

“Adherence to containment measures is more challenging to people with a pattern of antisociality in comparison to those who have an empathy pattern,” the researchers reported. The people who leaned toward antisocial tendencies showed higher scores in typical antisocial traits: callousness, deceitfulness, hostility, impulsivity, irresponsibility, manipulativeness, and risk-taking.

“Even after controlling for all covariates, the group represented by individuals that reported not adhering to any containment measures…kept the highest mean on profiles, indicating its proximity with the antisocial pattern,” the researchers noted. “The findings observed using the MANCOVA [Multivariate Analysis of Covariance] analysis also suggested that people who complied less with the containment measures had a tendency to show elevation on the ASPD [Antisocial Personality Disorder] scores (with the exception of irresponsibility), and low scores on affective resonance, even after controlling for all covariates.”

Limitations: Even though the study sample was large and covered all regions of the country, the authors stated that it cannot be considered representative of the Brazilian population.


Miguel FK, Machado GM, Pianowski G, de Francisco Carvalho L. Compliance with containment measures to the COVID-19 pandemic over time: Do antisocial traits matter? Pers Individ Dif. 2021 Jan 1;168:110346. doi: 10.1016/j.paid.2020.110346