Stress and COVID-19 related behaviours: The mediating role of delay discounting

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7 Scopus citations


We examined stress as a predictor of behaviours related to Coronavirus Disease-2019 (COVID-19) through its effects on delay discounting. Adults (N = 3686) completed an online survey with a behavioural measure of delay discounting and questions regarding stress, physical distancing, and stockpiling of food and supplies. Stress was weakly, but positively, correlated with delay discounting (p < 0.01). Delay discounting was positively correlated with stockpiling (p < 0.01); and discounting was negatively correlated with physical distancing (p < 0.01). Mediation models indicated that discounting was a significant mediator of the relationship between stress and physical distancing (−0.003) and stockpiling (0.003); bootstrap 95% CIs (−0.006, −0.001) and (0.001, 0.005), respectively. After accounting for its indirect effects through discounting, stress continued to have a direct effect on these outcomes. This study indicates that delay discounting partially mediates the link between stress and behaviours related to COVID-19. Results suggest that interventions reducing stress and/or delay discounting may be profitable for increasing infection prevention and reducing stockpiling.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)140-146
Number of pages7
JournalStress and Health
Issue number1
Early online dateMay 6 2021
StatePublished - 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We would like to acknowledge our team members and colleagues locally, nationally, and internationally, who provided their time to help develop, refine, and distribute the survey, with special thanks to Stephan Bongard, Bingshuo Li, Shah Alam, Remo job, Svetlana Kuzmina, Susan Levenstein, Donald Meichenbaum, Motohiro Nakajima, Georgi Vasilev, R. J. Solomon, Emna Bouguira, Emanuele Capuozzo, Hailey Glewwe, Ryan Johnson, Luke Leufen, Ksenia F. Li, Huma Mamtiminm, Daniela Morales, Katania Myrie, Ismail Rammouz, Jake Robinson, and Marina Olmos. This research was supported, in part, by the National Institutes of Health (R01DA016351 and R01DA027232). The funding source had no other role other than financial support.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.


  • COVID-19
  • delay discounting
  • physical distancing
  • stress

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article


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