Social & Behavioral Science and COVID-19

woman sitting in park on laptop The COVID-19 outbreak is one of the most challenging experiences our society has faced. It is also very much a social and behavioral science issue. Until we have a vaccine or therapeutics that can treat the disease, our primary tools for mitigating the impact of COVID-19 are social and behavioral in nature. Social distancing, washing our hands, not touching our faces, confronting isolation, and coordinating with others, require changes in our behaviors and social conditions that will be transformative for our society and for each of us as individuals. The disease itself will affect some parts of society more than others. Even if we find a way to treat the disease it will most likely change the way we behave and the way we relate to one another for many years. Additionally, coping with the stress of the disease and the convulsion it will cause our society necessitates bringing to bear resources from social policy, and mental as well as physical health.

As all of these issues are the purview of social and behavioral scientists, we are sharing information curated by the CSBS team on the social and behavioral issues raised by COVID-19. The goal of this page is to inform and provide resources for the CSBS community in Champaign-Urbana and beyond.

If you have items to contribute to this page, please email them to


Champaign-Urbana local resources for dealing with COVID-19

Broader social and behavioral science issues related to COVID-19

Experts to follow on Twitter

Additional resources

Champaign-Urbana local resources for dealing with COVID-19

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Psychology Department
COVID-19 Mental Health Resources
The coronavirus pandemic poses concerns for both physical and mental health. We share resources specifically for students, as well as resources that are available to the broader Champaign-Urbana community. These resources are meant to be useful to you as an individual and as someone who might be concerned about or caring for others.

Opinions from local experts on Illinois News Bureau

Illinois Program for Research in the Humanities and Antoinette Burton
Local, national, and international organizations in need of donations

School of Social Work, Community Learning Lab, Katie Shumway
Donations and needed supplies of local organizations

Champaign-Urbana Public Health District
A local tracker to keep tabs on the outbreak
Keep up to date on the COVID-19 information, including the number of confirmed cases for Champaign County.

Family Resiliency Center
Building Blocks of Resilience Briefs
These briefs offer resources for families that can be used to reinforce existing coping strategies as well as new ideas to face challenging circumstances.

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
COVID-19 Information Page
Stay connected with changes and updates happening at Illinois in relation to COVID-19.

University of Illinois Extension
Discover Wellness While at Home Webinar Series
University of Illinois Extension Educators provide dynamic sessions to provide helpful information and strategies to assist people during these difficult times.

Broader social and behavioral science issues related to COVID-19

Concurrent health behavior change and maintenance strategies amid COVID-19

The First Step – Acknowledging that these are difficult times

COVID-19: It’s OK to Feel Overwhelmed and Be Unproductive
By Susan Biali Haas, MD

Facts, Guidelines, and Tips for Starting and/or Maintaining Health Behaviors

How to Build Up Your Workout and Your Health in Small Steps 
Drs. Conroy & Pagoto

Tips for Healthy Living (relevant pre-, mid- and post-COVID19)
Blogs contributed by behavioral scientists on topics ranging from how to establish a regular exercise routine to optimize your sleep

Evidence-based behavior change strategies applicable to engagement in any behavior change

by Dinne Muslihat
Some add SMART + ER whereby E stands for “Evaluate” and R stands for “Revise.” Be sure to set a date/time for when you will evaluate your progress, and revise your goal as necessary (we often fail or do not fully reach the goals we set out to accomplish)

Relapse prevention
by Stanley J. Gross Ed.D.
Always have a plan for any setbacks you encounter along the road to success. Read this on minimizing the negative impact of behavior change barriers

Living with a chronic disease?

For anyone living with chronic disease, prevention of infection is key (so stay home, and wash your hands, if you must go out to shop, etc). Risk of complications is much higher if you become infected.

DISCLAIMER: If you were already engaged in treatment, prior to COVID19 “Shelter-in-Place,” your healthcare provider likely gave you strict instructions to follow (taking medication, doing home-based physical therapy, abstaining from smoking or alcohol, or trying to adhere to a heart healthy diet). This is not intended to replace any information you received from your healthcare provider. Consider the information presented here as supplementary, but please consult your healthcare provider before engaging in any changes to your treatment program.

Disinformation, fake news, and media literacy

COVID-19 Social Science Research Tracker

This international list tracks new research about COVID 19, including published findings, pre-prints, projects underway, and projects at least at the proposal stage.

Current Funding Opportunities for COVID-19 Research

CSBS COVID-19 Funding Opportunities (Google Spreadsheet)

CSBS maintains a shared spreadsheet of social and behavioral science funding opportunities related to COVID-19. If you’d like to add a funding opportunity, please email

Disinformation, fake news, and media literacy

As the coronavirus spreads across the world, the need to have accurate information about the disease becomes increasingly important. The articles describe some of the most common sources of disinformation as well as the role social media plays in spreading such messages at a disturbing rate.

Coronavirus: Fake News is Spreading Fast

Don’t believe these fake reports about the deadly virus

The Infodemic
Fake News in the Time of C-19

Welcome to your resource for COVID-19
An interactive chatbot that answers your questions about COVID-19 using the most up-to-date, scientifically grounded information.

Intervention strategies for countering misinformation (not COVID-specific)

Food security and COVID-19

Coronavirus and the Implications for Food Systems and Policy
By Billy Hall, Policy and Communications Advisor, USAID Bureau for Resilience and Food Security (RFS); James F. Oehmke, Senior Policy Advisor, USAID RFS, and Adjunct Professor, Department of Emergency Medicine, Northwestern University; and Shawn Wozniak, Agricultural Development Officer, USAID RFS.
In this blog, the authors draw lessons from past viruses in China and West Africa to explain how food systems can be disrupted under the COVID-19 pandemic.

Global Food Security Challenges in the Era of COVID-19
Sara Menker of Gro Intelligence and Sanjeev Krishnan of S2G Ventures join Laura Reiley of The Washington Post.
COVID-19 has had large scale impacts on the global food system, affecting everything from supply chains and markets to agriculture production and the labor force. In the face of system shocks, how are companies responding to the rising consumer demand and what are the lasting impacts?

“Flattening the curve” through social distancing

Much of the initial effort has been to diminish the large increase in cases that will overwhelm our medical systems. This is where social distancing and closing schools, bars, restaurants, and diminishing social gatherings come into play.

The Coronavirus Explained & What You Should Do
This video describes what happens to the body when infected with COV ID-19 and steps you can take to protect yourself.

The Washington Post
Why Outbreaks Like Coronavirus Spread Exponentially, and How to “Flatten the Curve”
This article describes how the coronavirus is spreading and provides comparisons between free-for-all, attempted quarantine, moderate distancing, and extensive distancing. Extensive distancing is the best solution.

Imperial College COVID-19 Response Team
Impact of Non-Pharmaceutical Interventions (NPIs) to Reduce COVID-19 Mortality and Healthcare Demand
This article shows the epidemiological modeling informing UN policymakers and different countries in recent weeks.

University of Michigan Health Blog
Flattening the Curve for COVID-19: What Does in Mean and How Can You Help?
History shows that taking strong steps now to slow the spread of coronavirus will help communities and individuals.

The Atlantic
This Is How We Can Beat the Coronavirus
Mitigation can buy us time, but only suppression can get us to where we need to be.

Social network-based distancing strategies to flatten the COVID-19 curve in a post-lockdown world
by Marion Hoffman, Isabel J. Raabe, et. al.
Social network paper on how to be more strategic about social distancing

The Atlantic
Our Pandemic Summer
The fight against the coronavirus won’t be over when the U.S. reopens. Here’s how the nation must prepare itself.

Medium | Coronavirus
Coronavirus: The Hammer and the Dance
What the next 18 months can look like if leaders buy us time.

Lessons on controlling the virus from other countries

What We Can Learn From Singapore, Taiwan, and Hong Kong About Handling Coronavirus
This website describes how Singapore, Taiwan, and Hong Kong, responded aggressively to the COVID-19 outbreak. They were well prepared and made rapid response possible to slow the spread.

UNDP Seoul Policy Centre for Knowledge Exchange through SDG Partnerships
Flattening the Curve on COVID-19
How Korea responded to a pandemic using ICT
Social Science in Humanitarian Action
This brief reports on attitudes and practices relating to physical distancing measures in Eastern and Southern Africa in the context of
the current global COVID-19 outbreak.

Washington Post
South Korea’s Coronavirus Success Story Underscores How the U.S. Initially Failed
This website provides a comparison of the steps taken by South Korea and the United States in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.

South China Morning Post
Coronavirus: Hong Kong Toughens Travel Restrictions on all Arrivals From Foreign Countries Amid Concerns About Wave of Imported Cases Swamping Public Health System
With the number of COVID-19 cases and deaths across the world continuing to surge above mainland China’s total, Chief Executive Carrie Lam expanded a red travel alert to cover all countries and jurisdictions except for neighboring Macau, Taiwan, and mainland China.

The Washington Post
First, China. Then, Italy. What the U.S. Can Learn From Extreme Coronavirus Lockdowns
As the coronavirus continues its spread, officials are beginning to consider whether the United States should enact the type of large-scale, mandatory lockdowns touted by Beijing and praised at times by World Health Organization officials.

The New Yorker
Keeping the Coronavirus From Infecting Health-Care Workers
This website describes Singapore and Hong Kong’s success in fighting the Coronavirus and what they are teaching us about the pandemic.

The Lancet
Lessons learnt from easing COVID-19 restrictions: an analysis of countries and regions in Asia Pacific and Europe
In early 2020, certain countries and regions in Asia Pacific and Europe went on full or partial lockdowns to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. This article examines what happened when these lockdown measures were eased and the lessons learnt when taking the risk to reopen.

Maintaining relationships in a time of social distancing

Psychology Today
Radical Healing in Times of Fear and Uncertainty
This article describes how it is natural to feel scared and isolated during the COVID-19 pandemic and provides a helpful list of resources and tips for people to cope with psychological distress during an infectious disease outbreak.

The Atlantic
The Art of Socializing During a Quarantine
Being cooped up at home will likely prompt feelings of loneliness no matter what, but these strategies might help make the experience less stifling.

University of Nevada, Las Vegas News Center
Social Media While Social Distancing
UNLV communication studies professor Natalie Pennington offers tips to preserve your mental health while protecting your physical health.

Michigan State University – MSU TODAY
Keeping the Peace With Your Partner During Social Distancing
Dorrance Hall, assistant professor in the Communication Department and Director of the Family Communication and Relationships Lab explains that now more than ever, it’s important to practice being a “good partner” because in these times of high uncertainty, relationship tension escalates.

University of Illinois News Bureau
How Can Parents Help Children Cope With COVID-19 Disruptions?
Kelly Tu, a professor of human development and family studies at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, spoke with News Bureau education editor Sharita Forrest about ways parents can help children cope with the changes and uncertainty brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Mental health resources

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Mental Health & Coping with Stress during COVID-19
The outbreak of COVID-19 may cause additional stress for people as they adjust to the current circumstances. This CDC website provides resources on how to deal with fear and anxiety about the disease, both of which can be overwhelming in adults and children. “Coping with stress will make you, the people you care about, and your community stronger.”

National Alliance on Mental Illness
COVID-19 Information and Resources
This website provides multiple resources on how to deal with anxiety about the disease, the feeling of isolation when working from home, and other useful advice in connection with the COVID-19 pandemic.

Pandemic lockdown holding back female academics, data show

Raising awareness about the naming of the virus, its impact on racism, implicit bias, nationalistic sentiment, and their broader social impacts

The CDC has warned against naming diseases after locations, saying it stigmatizes residents. These articles describe some of the direct consequences associated with using such terminology for naming the virus.

Los Angeles Times
Fear of Coronavirus Fuels Racist Sentiment Targeting Asians

NBC News
Trump Tweets About Coronavirus Using Term ‘Chinese Virus’

Real-time social and behavioral science research to help with intervention

Some groups are actively calling for social and behavioral scientists to contribute research insights from ongoing and newly initiated studies.

US Academic Library Response to COVID19 Survey
By Lisa Hinchliffe and Christine Wolff-Eisenberg
Real-time data gathering and dissemination on organizational response to COVID19 – case of academic libraries in the US. It includes data collection form as well as a set of dashboards for real-time reporting and analysis.

Tips for working remotely

United States Agency for International Development
The Ultimate Tip Sheet for Working Remotely
As international development professionals, USAID employees are accustomed to working and collaborating with people not located in the same office. This tip sheet explains some of the most common challenges and provides practical guidelines on how to address those.

UK’s behavioral insights approach to COVID-19

The UK is a prominent case in trying to use behavioral science to guide policy in a very controversial way. Their experience points to the potential benefits and pitfalls of the use and misuse of behavioral science for making policy decisions.

The Atlantic
The U.K.’s Coronavirus ‘Herd Immunity’ Debacle
The country is not aiming for 60 percent of the populace to get COVID-19, but you’d be forgiven for thinking so based on how badly the actual plan has been explained.

The UK Government
UK COVID-19 Action Plan Policy Paper
This document outlines what the UK has done to tackle the coronavirus outbreak.

Behavioral Scientist
Why a Group of Behavioural Scientists Penned an Open Letter to the U.K. Government Questioning Its Coronavirus Response
This article explains why a group of behavioral scientists penned an open letter to the U.K. government questioning the decision to not enact strict social distancing policies, while other countries in Europe had done so.

The Guardian
Behavioral Scientists Form New Front In Battle Against Coronavirus
In this article, behavioral scientists look at the role of psychology in public responses to the idea of quarantine. They touch upon the concept of “quarantine fatigue” and explain why providing a clear rationale for such measures is paramount.

Using Behavioral Science to fight COVID-19

Using Behavioral Science to fight COVID-19
By Pete Lunn, Cameron Belton, Ciarán Lavin, Féidhlim McGowan, Shane Timmons and Deirdre Robertson
“This paper summarizes useful evidence from behavioral science for fighting the COVID-19 outbreak. It is based on an extensive literature search of relevant behavioral interventions and studies of crises. The findings aim to be useful not only to government and public authorities, but to organizations, workplaces, and households.”

Roadmap to pandemic resilience
Harvard Center for Ethics
Massive-Scale Testing, Tracing, and Supported Isolation (TTSI) as the path to pandemic resilience for a free society

Behavioral Science at the heart of Public Health Response
By Susan Michie
This piece highlights the importance of using behavioral science to plan and deliver a public health response as well as to mitigate the effects of COVID-19.

The Behavioral Science of COVID-19
By the Center for Consumer Insights at Yale University
“As the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 continues to grow, consumers are reacting in ways that some might consider irrational—from stocking up on water and toilet paper to not ordering Corona beer. We’ve asked Ravi Dhar, the George Rogers Clark Professor of Management and Marketing and Director of the Center for Customer Insights and Professor Gal Zauberman, the Joseph F. Cullman 3rd Professor of Marketing, for their insight on the public reaction to the news.”

To solve the problems of this pandemic, we need more than just ‘the science
By The Guardian
The government will unveil some of its strategy for ending lockdown this week. It must consult academics across disciplines.

Selected Links: The Behavioral Side of the Coronavirus
By the Editorial Board of Behavioral Scientist
This website curates selected articles that help shed light on the behavioral features of the coronavirus pandemic.

Reconfiguring behavioral science for crisis knowledge management
By SciBeh
SciBeh a platform to share and discuss behavioral science research related to the COVID-19 crisis. This website contains a searchable knowledge base and open community forum to expand our collective knowledge on COVID-19 from the behavioral science perspective. 

Experts to follow on Twitter

These are primarily epidemiologists, virologists, and science communicators with expertise on COVID-19.


Additional resources

Country and world outbreak trackers

In the United States

In the World

Non-English language resources

Asian & Pacific Islander American Health Forum (APIAHF)
AA and NHPI In-Language Resources for Coronavirus (COVID-19)
This google spreadsheet is a collection of Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander (AA and NHPI) in-language resources on the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). The resource links have been submitted by community members, leaders, and national and community-based organizations that are actively working to improve the health & well-being of AA and NHPI communities.

What we know about how COVID-19 spreads

Muge Cevik, via Twitter 
Twitter thread by @mugecevik on how COVID-19 spreads
This twitter thread unloads the varying factors that determine whether a COVID-19 exposure will lead to transmission. Cevik explores the following factors: contact pattern (duration, proximity, activity), individual factors, environment (i.e. outdoor, indoor) & socioeconomic factors (i.e. crowded housing, job insecurity), and how they work together to transmit COVID-19.