New research has found that people attending mass ‘raves’ during the Covid-19 lockdown in early 2021 broke fewer pandemic guidelines than single vaccinated 80-year-olds – a discovery that could have substantial impact on future public health campaigns for both young and old.

The research revealed that over 50% of ravers complied with recommended Covid-19 guidelines by wearing face coverings and regularly washed their hands when partying, while the single vaccinated over 80’s population’s household mixing behaviour was significantly worse than that of the ravers.

The research, published by Futures journal, suggests these findings are linked to the outlook of ravers and those over 80-years-old on their future lives. Rule-breaking, with serious future health and socio-legal implications, such as that seen amongst over 80-year-olds in this study can be associated with a faster-life history strategy (meaning they are less future orientated). Whereas those with slower-life history strategies are generally associated with more stable lifestyles, thinking ahead about future safety, security and mortality risk.

The research was led by Dr Martha Newson (Kent’s School of Anthropology and Conservation) alongside Dr Sarah Johns (also Kent) and Dr Valerie van Mulukom (University of Oxford and University of Coventry).

Dr Newson said: ‘Moving into the party season, with yet another Covid-19 strain in circulation, we need to be aware of who is likely to be mixing outside of their household – it’s not always who you think. Whether someone thinks of themselves in the future, that they can imagine themselves and others getting ill, or whether they live moment to moment is a big part of the psychology determining our pandemic behaviours – even if that person doesn’t conform to mainstream societal standards in other ways.’

Dr Johns said: ‘Understanding how people view their future, and indeed their stability and mortality risk, is an important variable for public health research. This study shows how evolutionary approaches can be incorporated into such research and can help us predict individual health-related behaviours. Mortality cues produced by the current pandemic might play a role in shifting people towards more short-term thinking, but more research is required.’


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