Review of Behavioral Economics > Vol 8 > Issue 1

Kisses, Handshakes, COVID-19 – Will the Pandemic Change Us Forever?

Xenia Matschke, Trier University, Germany, , Marc Oliver Rieger, Trier University, Germany,
Suggested Citation
Xenia Matschke and Marc Oliver Rieger (2021), "Kisses, Handshakes, COVID-19 – Will the Pandemic Change Us Forever?", Review of Behavioral Economics: Vol. 8: No. 1, pp 25-46.

Publication Date: 14 Apr 2021
© 2021 X. Matschke and M. O. Rieger
Health Economics,  Behavioral economics,  Public opinion,  Health Care
JEL Codes: I12Z13
COVID-19SARS-CoV-2handshakessocial kissinggreetingsbehavioral changesconspiracy theories


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In this article:
1. Introduction 
2. Methodology and Data 
3. Results: Changes in Actual and Planned Greeting Behavior 
4. Discussion 
5. Conclusions 


We study the changes in greeting behavior caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. We find that after the use of handshakes and social kissing as forms of greeting decreased drastically, they became common again already a few months after the outbreak. Nevertheless, a consistently large proportion of respondents (around 57%) plan to change their greeting behavior permanently, either because they simply became used to it or because they want to avoid the danger of contracting and transmitting infectious diseases. As can be seen from the results of the first survey wave in April, 2020, the belief in conspiracy theories about COVID-19 did not influence the greeting behavior of individuals, but it proved to have a strong impact in the second survey wave in September, 2020.