The role of ingroup assortative sociality in the COVID-19 pandemic: A multilevel analysis of google trends data in the United States

Mac Zewei Ma, Shengquan Ye

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

This study tested how family ties and religiosity, two extended elements of ingroup assortative sociality, would predict group-level COVID-19 severity in the U.S. and how COVID-19 threat would predict ingroup assortative sociality at a weekly level. Multilevel models which analyzed the state-level archival (e.g., religious participation) and Google trends data (e.g., marriage for family ties; prayer for religiosity) on ingroup assortative sociality showed that religious search volume (from 2004 to 2019) significantly and negatively predicted COVID-19 severity (i.e., shorter time delay of first documented cases, shorter overall doubling times, higher reproductive ratio and higher case fatality ratio) across states (Study 1a) and counties (Study 1b) while search volume for family ties only significantly and negatively predicted county-level COVID-19 severity. Multilevel analyses also found that weekly COVID-19 severity weakly predicted weekly search volume of marriage and religion (Study 2a), but when COVID-19 threat was in the collective consciousness in a given week (i.e., Google search volume for coronavirus within 52 weeks), collective levels of ingroup assortative sociality increased from the previous week (Study 2b). Evidence across studies suggested that religiosity, compared with family ties, could serve a more important role for the U.S. people during the deadly pandemic.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)168-180
Number of pages13
JournalInternational Journal of Intercultural Relations
Volume84
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2021
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Behavioral immune system theory
  • COVID-19
  • Family ties
  • Google trends
  • Parasite-stress theory of sociality
  • Religiosity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business and International Management
  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science

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