How people behave during a pandemic and why?

It is clear today that the pandemic of the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 will go down in the history books. While we have a chance to prevent the worst scenario. Experts note that in order to stop the spread of CoVID-19, we need to work together, for example, to follow the recommendations of the world health organization (who) and observe the quarantine. But on the subject of human behavior, especially social behavior, is of interest not only to epidemiologists and sociologists, but also for us. As we face the consequences of a pandemic, I would like to understand why some people are concerned, others in panic, and still others see no reason for concern. Moreover, we understand that in times of global turmoil, people behave differently, but how and why?

Empty shelves in the shops

Despite the request of grocery networks and governments not to panic, people all over the world massively buying food, toilet paper and other products, thereby creating an effect of empty shelves. For this reason, those who have not taken any action, faced with a shortage of some goods. But why is this happening? According to Ali Fenwick, an expert on human behavior in Business-University Nyenrode (Netherlands), panic purchasing behavior occurs because the brain goes into survival mode, thus overriding any rational decision. The scientist told the Insider publication the four main reasons why people feel the need to stock up on food and goods.

1. Survival mode

Despite the fact that we consider ourselves capable of controlling if not all, very much – including their own behavior in uncertain or threatening the security situation, decisions are made by the brain. And since his main goal is to keep you alive, it goes into “survival mode”, distorting rational thinking. For this reason, despite reports of the government on the uninterrupted supply of foodstuffs and other vital goods to stores, people emptying supermarket shelves. Since most have never faced a similar crisis in healthcare, people are simply afraid to stay hungry. In principle, there is nothing unusual.

2. The effect of the deficit

After supermarket shelves were empty, there is an effect of scarcity. As some massively buying goods, creating artificial shortage – for example, toilet paper – people come to the conclusion that toilet paper is a very valuable commodity, so we need urgently to buy another. Moreover, as a valuable commodity, for it willing to pay more. Also the effect of scarcity can lead to buying things you don’t even like, but you are sure that they will soon rise. So if you ever see how people steal toilet paper from each other from the recycle bin, then you will know why.

3. Herd behavior

Of the two preceding paragraphs inevitably arises the third herd behavior. Fenwick explains that the fact that other massively stocking up on food (even those that are not needed) can cause you to do the same. Look around – everything seems quite uncertain: social exclusion, as countries close borders, the streets of major cities are empty. For this reason you are likely to follow the example of the majority, even if it might not be correct.

4. A sense of control

Agree, when a continuous around the unknown, and future uncertain, the desire to control something naturally. Thinking of different scenarios, including the negative, we feel better knowing that family will be fed. In other words, when there is uncertainty, buying products gives a sense of control.

Thus, the mass purchase of goods and food caused by various psychological and biological signals that override rational thinking. When the brain is in survival mode, emotions get the upper hand and can drive important decisions. Also do not forget that in uncertain situations people are more susceptible to social influences. And they, as history shows, might not be the best.

Human behavior during a pandemic

When it comes to infectious diseases, people’s behavior is crucial, not only for ourselves, but for society as a whole. Agree, if all people on Earth were completely rational, the fight against any infectious disease would be easy and simple: prevention, protection and deterrence could be carried out effortlessly. Unfortunately, we are not rational. People are prone to various errors of thinking, this cannot be changed. And in a situation of uncertainty, our fears are amplified and emotions prevail over reason.

For this reason, we must learn to control emotions and not to panic. During a pandemic of a novel coronavirus most important thing is to follow the recommendations of the world health organization and to abide by the quarantine – if you have the opportunity. Today, many companies are trying to support people who decided to isolate themselves. For example, the projects of online education , like Coursera have made some of its courses free and online movie theaters give people the opportunity to watch movies for free.

Sitting at home it is important to remember that the human need for physical activity. Therefore, instead of permanent residence on the couch, should from time to time to stand up and do exercises — it is possible to repeat the movements of the trainer from a video that we mentioned in this article. It is also worth to maintain a healthy diet and not to drink alcohol, hoping to overcome anxiety. If you have any concerns, you better listen to the advice of psychologists.