We must convey a realistic sense of pandemic uncertainty for people to adopt appropriate behavior. News about patients flooding hospitals and crematoriums overfilled with the dead have once again raised the danger signals on covid. But the big question is: How long will this heightened level of caution last? To answer that question, we should first understand why our population became so complacent vis-a-vis the pandemic in the few months preceding the second wave’s rise.
In a much-cited article ‘Risk As Feelings’ by George Loewenstein, Elke U. Weber and Christopher K. Hsee, published in Psychological Bulletin, the authors remind us that people’s perceptions of the risks of hazardous technologies or activities have little to do with consequentialist aspects (i.e., possible outcomes and their probabilities).
The sense of risk attached to a situation is directly proportional to the extent of perceptions of helplessness, or lack of control, in that situation.