📑 Coronavirus: The psychology of panic buying

Bookmarked Coronavirus: The psychology of panic buying (bbc.com)

Amid the coronavirus outbreak, people are flocking to supermarkets worldwide – but are they simply preparing, or irrationally panicking?

Bryan Lufkin explores the psychology behind panic buying. Whereas with other disasters it is clear what being prepared actually means, with the current crisis it is unclear what being prepared means with the current coronavirus outbreak.

In the case of a hurricane or flood, most people have a fair idea of the items they may need in the event of a blackout or a water shortage. But since it’s unclear at this stage just what effects Covid-19 will have, there’s a lot of uncertainty driving this spending.

Although washing hands and coughing hygiene are the most important things you can do, people feel the need to do more.

“Under circumstances like these, people feel the need to do something that’s proportionate to what they perceive is the level of the crisis,” Taylor says. “We know that washing your hands and practicing coughing hygiene is all you need to do at this point. “But for many people, hand-washing seems to be too ordinary. This is a dramatic event, therefore a dramatic response is required, so that leads to people throwing money at things in hopes of protecting themselves.”

The problem is that panic buying often reduces access to resources for those who really need them.

A better plan than panic buying would be to be prepared all year round for possible emergencies or crises. It’s also worth keeping everyone else’s needs in mind as these types of events unfold: stock up on what you and your family need, but avoid the urge to hoard enough supplies to fill a doomsday bunker. Because when individual panic buying plays out collectively, that’s what can lead to price gouging, or low supplies for high-risk individuals who need things like face masks more than the general population does.

This is interesting reading alongside the crash in the stock-market and the panic selling.

The coronavirus has a finite life, but the damage it does to the share market and the economy will take time to work through.

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