If you recently went to the grocery store to pick up some essentials during social distancing, you’re likely to find others not abiding by the measures in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic. Like college students who ignored warnings to let the party march on during Spring Break, there’s a reason people are not taking the risks of COVID-19 seriously.
The University of Virginia psychology professor Dennis Proffitt penned a column for Business Insider explaining the mindset of those who decide to risk chance and ignore social distancing measures. As Proffitt explained it, it’s our way of looking – or choosing how things should appear – based on our own inner-thinkings.
“We are biased to see what we want to see. This is not to say that we are apt to hallucinate our desires — looking in the mirror, I still see that I’ve gone bald — but when there is room for uncertainty, we are biased by our beliefs and desires,” Proffitt wrote, citing past research.
Biases are the premise of Proffitt’s argument. He pegged biases into three different sectors: how we consume information, how we perceive the world and juggling our intelligence when it conflicts with personal biases.
For information consumption, look at how you consume your information via the media. Every network has a different agenda on how it presents news and it’s important to be mindful of this. Fox News recently had a blunder after Sean Hannity called the coronavirus a “hoax” before denying he ever said it, calling for his audience to take the virus seriously.
The second point – biased to perceive the world – focus on expectations during uncertain times like those who not sick that let their guard down during uncertain times.
Proffitt wrote: “Believing that people, who do not show symptoms, are not contagious is pretty easy to accept when you are surrounded by healthy people and are not yourself getting sick. Uncertainty abounds when the enemy is invisible.”
His third premise leans on how our intelligence leaves us when it comes to facts vs. personal biases.
“If someone is inclined to believe that the press is exaggerating the coronavirus threat, then imagine how difficult it is for them to understand why they should shelter-in-place in order to flatten the curve?’,” he said.