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Culture Matters, But Not Always: How Cultural Impacts Vary Across Various Preventive Measures Against Covid-19
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, various countries have implemented different preventive policies which received different public responses. The goal of the current study is to understand the influence of culture on individuals' reactions to public health policies, and how this impact may vary for different preventive measures. Using AI technologies, we analyzed large amounts of social media data (10,128,707 Tweets) to gather global opinions and responses to various preventive measures from 95 countries via the sentiment analysis and further conducted the weighted regression analysis to analyze the association between the sentiment toward preventive measures and country-level culture index. Our findings suggest that the association between cultural values and preventive measures depends on the cultural congruence or cultural relevance of the measures. Power distance was found to be a positive predictor and indulgence a negative predictor for all types of preventive measures. But other cultural indexes did not predict the sentiment for all preventive measures. Specifically, individualism had a negative effect on sentiments towards face coverings and quarantine; uncertainty avoidance had a negative impact on lockdown and vaccination sentiment but a positive effect on social distancing sentiment; long-term orientation negatively impacted social distancing sentiment but positively affected quarantine and vaccination sentiment. Cultural tightness was found to have a negative effect on sentiments towards face coverings, quarantine, and social distancing, but not on other preventive measures. The implications for creating more culturally effective public policy and thus resolving the conflict between people and governments were discussed.