The Moderating Effect of Self-Control on the Relationship between Mental Health and Compliance to Government Regulations During the COVID-19 Pandemic
Research supports that self-control is positively related to both compliance and mental health. Though mental health and compliance to general government-implemented regulations (e.g., laws) are typically positively related, research indicates that mental health and compliance to COVID-19 safety regulations are negatively related due to the social isolation required by social distancing protocol. Based on these findings, we hypothesized that self-control would mediate the positive relationship between mental health issues and compliance to COVID-19 safety regulations. The current study gathered data on the relationship between self-control, mental health issues, and compliance to COVID-19 safety regulations. Three hundred and forty-four individuals completed measures that analyzed levels of anxiety, depression, trait self-control, state self-control, and compliance to government-implemented COVID-19 safety regulations. The data was analyzed with a multiple regression on one predictor variable (compliance with COVID-19 safety
measures), one response variable (mental health), and one moderating variable (self-control). Results partially supported our original hypothesis. Compliance to COVID-19 safety regulations was significantly, positively related to mental health issues. State self-control significantly moderated this relationship, but trait self-control and overall self-control were not moderating variables. The role of state self-control as a significant moderator could help mental health professionals treat patients as, by minimizing ego-depletion, state self-control could be increased, which would help state self-control to moderate the positive relationship between compliance to COVID-19 safety regulations and mental health issues to a greater extent. More broadly, the field of psychology benefits from this research by identifying the relationships among self-control, mental health, and compliance.