This article reveals a social perception that may contribute to the spread of the novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2). Across five studies—including two large-scale samples of Americans and Canadians (N = 3395)—we show that people consistently underestimate the risk of contracting the coronavirus from close others (i.e., friends) compared to other groups (e.g., colleagues or strangers). We show that informing people of their (unconscious) preference to believe that friends are less of a threat than strangers can effectively attenuate this tendency. Together, these results provide evidence that people’s beliefs about the probability of contracting the coronavirus from their friends are lower than from strangers, which can affect their physical distancing intentions.

Fuente: Humanities and Social Sciences Communications