MedPPE Blog March

Virus Personality Types

Spreader, Hoarder, Denier, Warrior or Worrier… Which pandemic personality describes you?

Norwegian researcher Mimi E. Lam recently identified 16 different types of pandemic behavioural identities. Which personality type best describes you?

  1. Deniers: You prefer to downplay the pandemic and its dangers, promoting business as usual
  2. Spreaders: You want the virus to spread to develop herd immunity, for normality to return
  3. Harmers: You may spit or cough at others or refer to the virus as the “Boomer Remover”
  4. Realists: You recognize the reality of the pandemic, the harm it inflicts and adjust your behaviour
  5. Worriers: You like to stay informed and safe to manage your uncertainty and viral-induced fear
  6. Contemplators: You don’t mind isolating and spend time reflecting on life and the world
  7. Hoarders: You’re guilty of panic-buying items such as food, toilet paper, and other products to quell your insecurity
  8. Invincibles: You’re most probably young, and believe yourself to be immune, flocking to beaches and partying
  9. Rebels: You defiantly flout social rules that restrict your individual freedoms
  10. Blamers: You vent your fears and frustrations onto others, discriminating against racial groups or health-care workers
  11. Exploiters: You exploit the situation for power or brutality
  12. Innovators: You design or repurpose resources, for example, for face masks, ventilators, and other medical equipment
  13. Supporters: You show your solidarity in support of others through, for example, hand clapping, songs and rainbows
  14. Altruists: Similar to the “care-mongers,” you help the vulnerable, elderly, and isolated
  15. Warriors: Like the front-line health-care workers, you combat the pandemic’s grim reality
  16. Veterans: Because you’ve experienced SARS or MERS, you willingly comply with pandemic restrictions


The world may be united in battling the global pandemic, but that doesn’t mean it has united us. We are still divided by our values and viral identities asserts Mimi E. Lam, a researcher at the University of Bergen in Norway in an article that was recently published in the journal Humanities and Social Sciences Communications.

“The global pandemic unites us with a common virus, but divides us with emergent viral identities,” Lam writes, claiming that the usual “identity markers, such as nationality, ethnicity, race, religion, socio-economic class and gender,” are not relevant in this “war.”

Lam identified 16 different types of behavioural personalities or identities that can be divided into three groups. The groups are based on how likely they are to adhere to government policies and regulations. Deniers, Harmers, Invincibles and Rebels are “non-compliers.” Spreaders, Blamers and Exploiters are “partial-compliers.” The rest of the identities — Realists, Worriers, Contemplators, Hoarders, Innovators, Supporters, Altruists, Warriors and Veterans — are considered “compliers.”

“The novel SARS-CoV-2 virus respects no political borders, infects all demographic groups (though with differential impacts), and lurks even within loved ones,” Lam writes. However, “these emergent pandemic behavioural identities are being hijacked by existing social and political identities to politicize the pandemic and heighten racism, discrimination, and conflict.”

Lam argues that we must “shift the behavioural curve,” now so we will be better prepared for the inevitable future “viral waves,” and because “partial compliers” are more susceptible to changing their pandemic behaviour than “non-compliers,” government leaders and policy-makers should concentrate on targeting their concerns to induce them to get on board with compliance measures.

“Tailoring policy design with nuanced communications for diverse pandemic demographic and behavioural groups can enhance coping and compliance, as individuals identify with their values, concerns, and interests being addressed by policy-makers. It also could foster empathy and understanding,” Lam argues. “The pandemic reminds us that we are not immune to each other. To unite in our fight against the pandemic, it is important to recognize the basic dignity of all and value the human diversity currently dividing us. Only then, can we foster societal resilience and an ethical pandemic agenda.”