Background. COVID-19 has revealed the diversity of cultural characteristics and mentalities of different countries: every people living through the pandemic interprets the means of overcoming the crisis in their own way, in accordance with their historical experience and cultural traditions.
Objective. The purpose of this study (April 2 - May 2, 2020) was to identify the influence of cultural factors and the context of residence (living in their own country or in another culture as a migrant) on how people perceive and experience a pandemic.
Design. The study involved 605 people: 402 Russian-speaking respondents (221 migrants living outside their countries) and 203 representatives of other cultures (165 Spaniards and 38 migrants from different countries).The main research method was a survey using a specially prepared questionnaire (in four languages – Spanish, English, German, and Russian).
Results. Cultural factors had a strong influence on how a people experienced a pandemic. Respondents from European and other cultures (non Russian speakers) were very intolerant of dissent in the fight against the pandemic; showed an increase in patriotism; and demonstrated increased readiness for an operational response to the situation through a change of activity. Russian-speaking respondents showed great loyalty to different positions and different behaviors during pandemic situation; expressed the desire to wait out the pandemic and quickly return to their usual way of life; their main preventive measure was self-isolation, which was considered an opportunity for the development of something new. The perception of a pandemic by migrants differed from its perception by the indigenous population.
Conclusion. Common to all representatives of the international sample were the ideas of necessary international cooperation and universal responsibility to overcome the pandemic. But the cultural factors and having a migrant’s status had a strong influence on the perception and experience of the pandemic, which depends on the mentality and historical experience in different countries.
Keywords: COVID-19; perception and experience of pandemic situation; ethnopsychology; cultural features; migrant status