Underlying Principles of a Covid-19 Behavioral Vaccine for a Sustainable Cultural Change


Until pharmacological measures are effective at containing the COVID-19 outbreak, adopting protective behaviors is paramount. In this work, we aim at informing interventions to limit the spread of the contagion and prepare against any future outbreaks by developing a behavioral framework to interpret and prescribe both the individual and large-scale uptake of non-pharmaceutical measures. First, we analyze the barriers and facilitators to adherence to protective behaviors according to a three-term contingency by exploring potential gaps in terms of setting stimuli, motivating operations, delayed consequences, and positive or negative consequences. We explore their roles in the likelihood of individual compliance to protective behaviors, taking physical distancing as an example of functional analysis. Second, we interpret contagion control as the cumulative effect of large-scale adherence to protective behaviors. We explore the interrelations between societal problems caused or amplified by similar behaviors presented by many individuals and the coordination of agents or agencies aiming at promoting large-scale behavioral change. Then, we highlight the potential of developing a behavioral vaccine, and practical steps for applying it to promote sustainable cultural change that may protect against health, social, and economic losses in future outbreaks.



behavioral vaccine, COVID-19, cultural change, policymaking, metacontingency, behavior analysis


Couto, K.C.; Moura Lorenzo, F.; Tagliabue, M.; Henriques, M.B.; Freitas Lemos, R. Underlying Principles of a Covid-19 Behavioral Vaccine for a Sustainable Cultural Change. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17, 9066.