Chinese attitudes shift as a result of coronavirus: Survey

People wearing protective masks walk in a park, as the country is hit by an outbreak of the novel coronavirus disease (Covid-19), in Beijing, China, March 23, 2020.
PHOTO: Reuters

LONDON - The coronavirus outbreak has led to a shift in attitudes in China, with less tolerance of individualistic behaviour and a greater tendency to recognise the contributions of others, according to a survey conducted during the epidemic.

Dutch-based group Glocalities had been collecting data in China as part of an a global survey on trust and values when the outbreak began, allowing it to capture a shift in attitudes as tens of millions of Chinese were locked down.

The survey was conducted online among 2,022 Chinese between Jan 23 and March 13.

Among the main findings were:

  • People placed much more emphasis on etiquette
  • Individualistic behaviour was unacceptable
  • There was more desire for order and structure
  • There was rising trust in education and institutions
  • There was greater appreciation for those who contribute

"(The survey) reveals that the hardship and tragedy of lives lost during the Covid-19 pandemic cause a situation of fundamental reset for populations all over the world," said Martijn Lampert, research director of Glocalities.

"In times of isolation people increasingly value their fellow humans and especially those who are at the frontline in battling the crisis. This pattern is likely universal and applicable to most affected countries."

The researchers were able to separate survey responses into before and after Feb 5, allowing for a comparison in as a result of the lockdown.

Before Feb 5, 67 per cent strongly agreed that "etiquette and rules determining good manners are very important to me". After Feb 5, the figure was 79 per cent.

Asked "if you give people too much freedom they abuse it", 48 per cent of those surveyed before Feb. 5 strongly agreed. After Feb 5, 59 per cent strongly agreed.

Some of the biggest changes were around trust. The survey showed confidence in education rose from 71 per cent to 82 per cent before and after Feb 5. Trust in civil servants rose from 42 per cent to 54 per cent and in Chinese companies from 55 per cent to 70 per cent.

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There was also a sizeable increase in appreciation for billionaire businessman and philanthropist Jack Ma. Like Ma, the founder of online retailer Albia, billionaires in Europe and the United States have offered support.

"The lockdown trend survey shows an ample opportunity for billionaire philanthropists... and companies in all countries to step in and assist governments, healthcare workers and communities in saving lives, combating the crisis and rebuilding society," said Lampert.

The full survey is available here.

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