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BC Residents Score Themselves Highly (89% rate themselves an 8,9 or 10/10) on Social Distancing, but are Critical of British Columbians as a Whole (35%), and are Especially Critical of Younger Residents (13%)

Social distancing has had a dramatic effect on individual behaviour, as 58% of us are spending less money than usual, and we are doing certain things more often like reading/watching the news (67%), cooking (58%), using social media (56%), eating healthy (54%), reading (45%), talking with family (51%), and sleeping (45%).

Vancouver, BC —A new Insights West poll conducted this past week with 817 BC residents shows a high level of perceived adherence to social distancing despite the fact that most residents are leaving their homes multiple times per week to get groceries and run errands. Social distancing has had significant effect on everything from exercise, eating habits, alcohol consumption, self-improvement and sex.

British Columbians rate themselves very highly when it comes to their own social distancing behaviour but think other people are doing a poor job on this front. The vast majority give themselves high scores on a 10-point scale; 41% a 10 out of 10, and a total of 89% an 8, 9 or 10. The remaining 11% rate themselves between a 4 and a 7, and nobody graded themselves as a 3 or lower. The same is not true when asked about British Columbians as a whole—only 4% give others a score of 10, and only 35% rate the rest of the Province as an 8, 9 or 10. Most of the other ratings are in the middle of the scale (47% rate a 6 or a 7), while the remainder (17%) give ratings of 5 or lower.

Perceptions of the level of social distancing among young adults in our province is abysmally low, with only 2% rating this group as a 10, and only 13% give them a score of 8 or higher. The majority (55%) rates this group a 5 or lower. It is quite interesting to note that young British Columbians 18-34 actually do NOT share this perception of themselves. In fact, they rate their social distancing behaviour HIGHER than the public overall (91% rate themselves an 8 or higher—including 42% who give themselves a 10 out of 10). However, like the rest, they also rate their peer group much lower (only 12% of 18-34’s rate other 18-34’s 8 or higher).

Perceptions of the conduct of seniors (70+ years) is much higher, as 19% of British Columbians give this group a 10 out of 10, and 66% score them an 8 or higher.

Despite residents scoring themselves favourably on social distancing behaviour, people are not adhering very well to the recommendation to stay home and indoors. The average British Columbian has left their house 1.8 times this past week to shop for groceries, once per week for other shopping needs, 2.8 times to walk or exercise, and multiple times for other reasons such as social meet-ups (0.7), assisting family members in need (0.8) or other reasons (1.0). Interesting to note that men in BC are leaving their house far more often than women, and younger and Metro Vancouver residents are also leaving their homes at a higher rate than other age groups or regions1.

“It’s an interesting phenomenon that individually we think we are doing a good job in social distancing, but we don’t think our neighbour is doing the same” says Steve Mossop, president of Insights West. “I believe public instances of shaming offenders—whether it be social media or news-driven, has given us the perception that we are doing worse as a society than what we are actually doing. However; I’m a bit surprised at the extent to which people are leaving their homes—clearly we can do a better job on this front.”

What is certain is that the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in some pretty dramatically changed behaviours throughout this province. In some areas we’re are doing certain things much more often than we normally would. People are reading or watching the news more (67% more often), cooking (58%), using social media (56%), talking with family (51%), reading (45%), sleeping (45%), talking with friends (41%), improving mental health (35%), buying from local business (34%), and playing video games (33%).

We are spending less money than we normally would (58% are spending less), donating blood less often (24%), and having less sex (24%).

In other areas, there have been changes on both sides of the equation. A larger proportion say they are working less (32%) than the number who say they are working more often (16%). For exercising, it is split between 28% who say less often vs. nearly an equal number (31%) who say more often. Ordering take-out is also split (36% less, 27% more) as is drinking alcohol (23% less, 25% more), and eating unhealthily (22% less, 34% more). Other categories that are split include financially helping friends (16% less, 13% more) financially helping family members (13% less, 19% more), and giving money to charities (18% less, 18% more).

1 The survey counted individual times that people left their home for certain activities and does not take into account multiple purpose trips.

About Insights West:

Insights West is a full-service marketing research firm based in Western Canada. Since 2012, the company has conducted over one million surveys, executed 2,000 studies, and issued over 350 press releases on a variety of topics, correctly predicting the outcomes of 24 out of 25 elections and plebiscites. Insights West is a team of passionate, truth-seeking researchers who question everything to uncover the truth and what is emerging for a diverse set of clients. With an understanding of shifting markets, consumer and societal trends, and commitment to uncovering truths through a proprietary toolkit and innovative research approaches, Insights West helps organizations make better decisions.

About this Release:

Results are based on an online study conducted from April 9, 2020 to April 12, 2020 among a sample of 817 BC residents. The margin of error—which measures sample variability—is +/- 3.4 percentage points, 19 times out of 20. Discrepancies between totals are due to rounding. Click HERE to view the detailed data tabulations.

For further information, please contact:

Steve Mossop
Insights West