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Am J Infect Control. 2009 Jun;37(5):371-80. doi: 10.1016/j.ajic.2008.08.007. Epub 2009 Jan 1.

Predicting the anticipated emotional and behavioral responses to an avian flu outbreak.

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Department of Psychology, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM 87131, USA.



The purpose of this study was to develop a model to predict the emotional and behavioral responses to an avian flu outbreak.


The participants were 289 university students ranging in age, income, and ethnic backgrounds. They were presented with scenarios describing avian flu outbreaks affecting their community. They reported their anticipated emotional responses (positive emotion, negative emotion) and behavioral responses (helping, avoidance, sacrifice, illegal behavior) as if the scenarios were actually occurring. They also were assessed on individual differences expected to predict their responses.


Participants were only modestly familiar with the avian flu and anticipated strong emotional and behavioral responses to an outbreak. Path analyses were conducted to test a model for predicting responses. The model showed that age, sex, income, spirituality, resilience, and neuroticism were related to responses. Spirituality, resilience, and income predicted better emotional responses, and neuroticism and female sex predicted worse emotional responses. Age, sex, income, and spirituality had direct effects on behavior. The emotional responses were directly related to each behavior and mediated the effects of individual differences.


Emotional responses may be important in predicting behavior after an outbreak of avian flu, and personal characteristics may predict both emotional and behavioral responses.

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