Social and economic influences on human behavioural response in an emerging epidemic
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© Published under licence by IOP Publishing Ltd. The human behavioural changes have been recognized as an important key in shaping the disease spreading and determining the success of control measures in the course of epidemic outbreaks. However, apart from cost-benefit considerations, in reality, people are heterogeneous in their preferences towards adopting certain protective actions to reduce their risk of infection, and social norms have a function in individuals' decision making. Here, we studied the interplay between the epidemic dynamics, imitation dynamics and the heterogeneity of individual protective behavioural response under the considerations of both economic and social factors, with a simple mathematical compartmental model and multi-population game dynamical replicator equations. We assume that susceptibles in different subpopulations have different preferences in adopting either normal or altered behaviour. By incorporating both intra- and inter-group social pressure, the outcome of the strategy distribution depends on the initial proportion of susceptible with normal and altered strategies in both subpopulations. The increase of additional cost to susceptible with altered behaviour will discourage people to take up protective actions and hence results in higher epidemic final size. For a specific cost of altered behaviour, the social group pressure could be a "double edge sword", though. We conclude that the interplays between individual protective behaviour adoption, imitation and epidemic dynamics are necessarily complex if both economic and social factors act on populations with existing preferences.
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