Adhering to Social Distancing Guidelines is an Indicator of Intelligence, Finds New Study

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The researchers found individuals with higher working memory capacity have increased awareness about social distancing and, subsequently, show more compliance with recommended social distancing guidelines.

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As scientists are doubling their efforts to make a coornavirus vaccine, social distance, along with face masks and hand hygiene, has been the only defence against the deadly virus.

Now, a new study has surfaced suggesting that complying with social distancing norms has a lot to do with working memory. It is an indicator of intelligence.

The research reveals that those who follow social distancing guidelines have better working memory capacity than those who don’t comply with them.

The study was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Working memory capacity tells about how much information an individual can retain for the short-term. It also has to do with comprehension and problem-solving skills.

Weiwei Zhang, an associate professor of psychology at the University of California at Riverside, said that the research proposes policymakers should take into consideration people’s general cognitive abilities when asking them to wear masks or engage in physical distancing.

The study was conducted on 850 participants in March. The participants filled questionnaires on demographics and social distancing practices. They were also tested for personality and cognitive capacity.

During the research, it was found that people with higher working memory capacity have an increased awareness of benefits over costs of physical distancing. Such individuals exhibited more compliance with recommended guidelines just after an outbreak of the novel coronavirus.

The aim of this experiment was to figure out why some people do not adhere to social distancing rules. It also tried to facilitate strategies to increase compliance.

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