This is hardly surprising. attest from this pandemic and others shows that people take precautions only when they perceive a gamble. When we are told by those in mission that there is no risk any more, we naturally believe there is no rationality to take precautions any more. But we still need to ask : a risk to whom ? The common-sense answer is risk to oneself. But the evidence tells a unlike fib. From early on in the pandemic it became clear that a sense of hazard to the residential district was a critical factor in whether people followed Covid measures. And indeed, our own unpublished datum shows that adherence to these measures is linked more to communal risk than to personal risk. In other words, most people wear masks and follow other precautions to keep their residential district safe, specially its more vulnerable members. Our reasons for following these measures are more about social than personal duty. The government ’ south late and persistent stress on the personal has chipped away at this communal common sense of concern and undermined our impression that caution is necessity. Our behavior international relations and security network ’ metric ton equitable determined by what we believe about risk. It is besides affected by what we think others believe. If we think our personal attitudes go against social norms – specially the norms of people like ourselves – then social norms generally play a bigger function in shaping our behavior than personal attitudes. This can create a number of paradoxes. If our actions are determined by our beliefs about others, then we can all end up doing something that about no one believes in. During the pandemic, for example, people believed that others rejected the rules far more than they actually did. This go people to break the rules themselves, even if they believed in them. And these violations in twist became evidence that others rejected the rules – creating a condemnable spiral. Our political leaders – the government, its advisers and the opposition – are critical in breaking this coiling. A key dimension of good leadership is the ability to bring people together, to help them realise that their concern for the guard of their community is shared by others, and to feel empowered to act on this.
however, one of the main reasons people aren ’ metric ton wearing masks has nothing to do with masks at all. We resent being told what to do by others, and tend to respond by reasserting our autonomy. This becomes even more acute when we believe this is a matter of “ us ” and “ them ”. That is precisely what has happened with Covid, and more specifically with masks. We live in a democrat age, which divides club into “ the people ” and “ the elite ”, and where some believe the elect ( or constitution ) is seeking to control the people. According to this worldview, the politics and its experts have introduced Covid measures on the guise of protecting us, but they are actually trying to control us. If this is true of Covid measures in general, it is particularly true of masks, portrayed as a potent symbol of control : they are muzzles. What people are rejecting, then, is less the dissemble and more the political and scientific institution that proposes it. Providing evidence about the risks of Covid and the effectiveness of masks will do little to restore disbelievers ’ religion in the quantify. After all, if the problem lies with the establishment, you are just adenine likely to reject its testify about masks as its recommendation to wear one. Rather, the key lies in creating a relationship of confidence between those who propose Covid measures and those for whom they are proposed. As with vaccines, this is a matter of community engagement : working with different groups to show how measures are something done for them ( not to them ). With trades unionists, for example, protective measures are part of taking health and safety at work seriously. For those who are religious, they are about loving thy neighbor.
Rebuilding trust between politicians, scientists and the populace is critical to dealing with the current crisis. But it is equally important for the future. early on in the Covid period there was much talk of determine lessons and of “ building spinal column better ”. As time has gone on and our leaders have made a general feat to forget the pandemic ( and deny its ongoing reality ), this has been forgotten. It is as if we want to erase the fact that Covid ever happened. Those who deny history are condemned to repeat past mistakes. Acting as if it ’ s all over not only leaves us exposed and helpless in the present. It besides makes us uncover and helpless future time .
- Stephen Reicher is a member of the Sage subcommittee advising on behavioral skill. He is a professor of psychology at the University of St Andrews, a companion of the Royal Society of Edinburgh and an authority on herd psychology