Covid pandemic made Dutch more rule abiding
It’s been almost exactly one year since the first coronavirus restrictions were announced by Prime Minister Mark Rutte. Cautionary advice back then to cough in your elbow and wash your hands soon turned into strict travel regulations and a hard lockdown of the entire country.
“The pandemic has a lasting effect on people’s behavior”, Paul van Lange, professor of psychology at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, said to Hart van Nederland. He expects a cultural change that goes beyond simply feeling ashamed at sneezing in the grocery store. “The Netherlands will become more rule-abiding”, he predicts. “Resembling, Germany or Japan.”
Some rules in the “loose” Dutch society, such as ignoring a red light on the bike path, will continue to be broken, Van Lange said. Nonetheless, according to him, the pandemic required society to be more disciplined when it comes to following rules.
Not only have authorities become stricter, but people are also more inclined to call out their fellow citizens when they violate a rule. “Before not many paid much attention when someone did something that wasn’t allowed, now people are more likely to speak up when someone, for example, is not wearing a face mask or keeping their distance in the train.”
Van Lange expects the effect of the pandemic on the population’s behavior to remain for the upcoming years. “The coronavirus gets its own structural character, vaccinations only protect a part and the threat of the virus remains.” That means queueing at a distance is here to stay for the time being. Van Lange does not view the change as inherently bad. According to him, in the past many tended to skip the trip to the sink after visiting the restroom. “In this case, it is good that we learn to stick to the rules a little more.”