Social distancing is an important strategy to control the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, so it is imperative to understand the behavioral impact of social distancing on individuals. This research studied social distancing from a cognitive appraisal of voluntary social distancing compliance (CAVSD) point of view and a non-medical perspective, specifically the psychological impact (PI) of social distancing on the usage intensity of social networking sites (SNS) during the COVID-19 outbreak in India.
The study was conducted on 477 SNS users as a full sample and groups based on age, sex and work status. The model was empirically investigated using structural equation modeling.
CAVSD was negatively associated with PI although it was not a significant predictor, while CAVSD and PI were significant predictors of SNS usage intensity; moreover, SNS usage intensity differed between groups of people.
These findings are significant for organizations, corporations and educational institutions in both the public and private sectors. There is a need to identify subsections of individuals in need of social support and relief from isolation and loneliness. Individuals are relying on social media to handle social distancing and the pandemic, and this shows up in an increase in social networking activity.
This study contributes to the existing literature by positing social networking as a basic virtual need for socialization, and social media platform assists in that. Cognitive appraisal is an important determinant of individual response.
Chakraborty, T., Kumar, A., Upadhyay, P. and Dwivedi, Y.K. (2021), "Link between social distancing, cognitive dissonance, and social networking site usage intensity: a country-level study during the COVID-19 outbreak", Internet Research, Vol. 31 No. 2, pp. 419-456. https://doi.org/10.1108/INTR-05-2020-0281
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