Reflections On The Influence Of The Coronavirus On Social Psychology

Reflections On The Influence Of The Coronavirus On Social Psychology

It could be said that this pandemic has not only had an enormous impact from a medical and epidemiological point of view, but the psychological coping that has been made of it has also been fundamental, as well as the influence it has had on our psychosocial behaviors, both individual and society level. So ... what does Social Psychology have to tell us about it?

One of the psychosocial areas where we believe that Covid-19 has had a considerable impact has been on the behavior trends of individuals and the influence of peer pressure: not a few report having felt observed and / or judged by not wearing a mask in environments where the bulk of the population usually uses it, for example. In those moments, does the individual tend to adapt to the whole and adopt the same behaviors or does he prioritize what he thinks is appropriate?

Respondents report that for this reason, and not for other reasons (such as sanitary regulations) they finally gave in to wear it themselves ...

In these cases, it is not that the individual is inconsistent with his principles and lets himself be carried away by others, but rather that it is a universal behavior pattern in which there are a series of contextual factors that cause us to be drawn into it. (Social) uncertainty, for example, would be one of them: when the situation is ambiguous, complex, novel or without clear rules of action, the individual feels an excessive tendency to accept the majority behavior since their personal judgment is considered as little competent or even incompetent about it.

Other situations that have served as an example are the agglomerations experienced in supermarkets during the first days of a state of alarm: in the face of ignorance of what was happening and the uncertainty of when we would return to normal, or if the food supply would be assured in the long run term, a certain number of people decided to go for groceries. As it was one of the exceptional sites that could still be visited at that time, the cameras went there to record, and the crowding of people led many others to interpret provisioning as extremely urgent. The "call effect" was produced, resulting in images like those seen in the first days of extremely long lines and empty shelves in supermarkets.

The same could be said of new learnings regarding what would be our day to day: putting street clothes in bags and leaving them in quarantine, cleaning the soles of our shoes when we get home, etc. ... Large-scale transmission of Information through the media has led to this series of behaviors being adopted in our lives; However, is it scientifically proven that these measures work or do we adopt them for the mere fact of feeling without adequate knowledge in this regard, and therefore not very competent ?

Theories about social conformity

Already in 1952, the pioneer in social psychology Solomon Asch, demonstrated through a series of social experiments that in ambiguous situations the human being tends to observe his surroundings and use that contextual information to carry out decision-making. The result of this would be a trend towards social conformism, even if this gives rise to irrational thoughts or wrong decisions, in up to 30% of cases.

Even in sociological studies it was found that in this type of situation we tend to be more conservative, not only with respect to the decision made, but also in reference to the evaluations we make of others and with what type of interpersonal profiles we feel more identified.

Those participants most concerned about the disease preferred or said they liked more "traditional" people more, and were less likely to feel affinity with "creative" or "artistic" people. Faced with the risk of contagion, any sign of free thought, even invention and innovation, is valued less, apparently due to the capacity that these individuals would have to act less likely according to the established norms.

Behavioral immune system »

Mark Schaller coined this term (behavioral immune system) to refer to the set of unconscious psychological responses that act as a first line of defense with the aim of reducing our contact with possible pathogens. That is, this immune system, instead of being made up of antibodies, is made up of a whole series of behaviors that will make us less exposed to possible sources of disease. Have you ever started to feel bad just after having eaten some food, which in principle was in good condition, and the aversion to that food quickly became conditioned? This learning, which appears unconsciously, could be considered a good example of the behavioral immune system.

The contact and interpersonal preferences that we usually show in these situations, and that we discussed in the section on social conformism, would be another clear non-conscious example of the presence of this behavioral immune system.

According to the science writer specializing in brain function, David Robson, "the fear of contagion makes our moral judgments tighter and sexual attitudes more conservative. "

However, given the predictions of a possible reappearance that would make us regress in the phases of the new normality: does the human being really have more cautious attitudes or does he tend to short-term reinforcement of making the most of the present moment possible even at the expense of reverse negatively in the medium-long term in an earlier regrowth and, therefore, in a new confinement?

Whether or not the "behavioral immune system" kicks in depends primarily on how vulnerable a person is perceived to be contagious. Hence, young people (age group in principle little affected by Covid-19, both in prevalence and severity of the disease), as well as those people who have manifested symptoms (despite not having generated antibodies), can reach have riskier behaviors, since they interpret that they are not a risk population. By not feeling so vulnerable to illness, your behavioral immune system will act more calmly if you choose blue ridge wilderness therapy program.

Ways of behaving in groups and tendencies in interpersonal interactions

Once the lack of refinement begins, and knowing that there are rules established by the authorities to promote the safety and health of the population, we tend to adopt certain values ​​in this regard. Do we tend to stay in our position or position when we interact with other individuals, or do we tend to give in to what at first we thought were red lines that we would never cross?

Put yourself in situation; We come to a meeting of friends, we meet by chance, we go to an environment where we usually do not usually interact with others and the dilemma arises: there are some social distancing measures, we are firmly convinced that we are going to comply because thanks to them we are going to avoid a high rate of contagion (even avoiding contagion ourselves), but it is time to say hello… and do we hug like we used to? Is »nudge» the most appropriate? A simple hello with the security meter and a half?

Different influencing factors will deal with this, one of them (if not the most important one) will be group pressure again: if we do not have a previously formed idea, we will tend to manifest the form of greeting that we see in others.

However, when we have a strong heteronomous morality (governed by rules imposed from outside) and we evaluate the possibility of punitive consequences in this regard as highly probable (we are fined, for example), it will be more likely that we will only respect them when the authority is close; other people, a police car, or even those we are going to greet could function there as authority figures.

On the other hand, when we are governed by an autonomous morality, that is, we know that there are certain safety regulations, but we know what they are based on, what they are for and we have built individual opinions on the matter, it will be more likely that we will respect them even further. even though there is no one present who could evaluate us. In those cases, we would tend to respect social distancing, the use of masks, etc., not for fear of contagion, or of being punished by authority, but as our own conviction, civility and protection of others (and oneself).

Finally, those people who have managed to settle some particular ideas about the current situation, and have more tools to set limits assertively and without feeling bad about it, will have less tendency to give in and adapt to what the other is doing, in contrast to those who do not have these resources and depend more on external social evaluation.

Consumption trends and reevaluation of vital goals: Living in the center of macro cities or prioritizing quality spaces (balconies, terraces, living close to and in contact with nature)?

The planet had long been sending us alarm messages about our consumption trends and selfish behaviors with nature, and how they were not going to make the situation sustainable for much longer. Regarding how this pandemic has been able to influence lifestyles, a “migratory” trend has been observed, especially in large cities, from large cities to smaller ones or even to towns: the establishment of teleworking, the accelerated increase rents, and in the cognitive field, the expectations of a possible regrowth that would make us confine ourselves again, have triggered that not a few have made decisions regarding their consumption habits and lifestyles; Leaving the big cities, prioritizing larger houses although not so central, or having a light, balcony or terrace as a requirement have been some of the examples of this.

The applause at 8

What originally originated as a show of support for health workers ended up being established as a social routine. And because? In situations in which the human being is having a hard time, he tends to feel better and more understood not by his loved ones, but by those individuals who are going through the same thing. From window to window, we felt that our neighbor on the 1st, and the one upstairs, and the one from the next block were in the same situation: confined to home. From there, a feeling of group identity begins to be built, and with it the feeling that we are all rowing in the same direction to get out of this together.

To make matters worse, these applause (or the lack of it, if it was pointed out that a neighbor was one of those who did not come out to clap) generated a feeling of belonging to a group, the end group, and stereotyped conclusions were drawn about values characteristics of those others who were not seen on the balconies applauding. "Are you one of those who applaud or one of those who don't?" Is surely a question that you have heard a lot during confinement, and with that alone people have felt part of a social group, "the applauders”, in front of the outgroup?

Certainly, as a result of those moments shared in community, new gratifying neighborhood relationships have emerged, but if we asked those same people, they would evaluate the "non-applauding" with a different valence, despite not knowing them; This is where the stereotypes that we conform about the outgroup are coming into play, as a form of cognitive savings in the case of not knowing a part of society.

The Balcony Policeman and the Child Haters: We thought this confinement was going to bring out the best in us, but no!

Negative, selfish, individualistic feelings have also been awakened. And what is this due to? First of all, clarify that it will depend on a multitude of factors, including what are the internalized values ​​throughout our lives as well as the traits that make up our personality, and how both interact forming the nuclear schemes through which we interpret the information. that we receive.

However, when the human being is under pressure, in exceptional situations, which he has never lived before, and in which some of our freedoms are restricted (in this case the free disposition of our time and leaving home), it tends to vindicate himself with the intention of getting out of that oppressive state that causes him discomfort. As in this case there were (and are) laws and citizen security regulations involved, a powerful dissonance is generated between what they would and cannot, but others are doing (for now). The subject there compares himself with those he observes (from his window), they consider that their behavior is not adequate, because they cannot do it themselves, placing themselves in a disadvantageous position, and as a final result they try to have egalitarian measures and all comply with them. In short, they adopt totalitarian positions characterized by little empathy, since if they analyzed situations through the lens of empathy they could come to perceive that, how much less, these subjects deserve the benefit of the doubt of whether they are breaking the rules or not , and secondly, in these cases it is necessary to act under equity, not equality, since some population groups will need to abide by adapted norms and exceptions due to their vital idiosyncrasies.(See people who went down the street because they were going to their job that cannot be telematics, people with special needs, medical prescriptions, ...).

Bottom line: Are we going to end up being more individualistic? Less sociable or socializing? In this regard we have a wide range of data from the field of Social Psychology both for and against. Which tendency is the predominant one will depend on the idiosyncratic characteristics of each individual, on the attributions that he makes at each moment about the consequences that the disease would have for himself and his environment, as well as the context where these value judgments are given, always taking into account It takes into account that the individual functions qualitatively differently individually than in a group or in society.

 One thing we can make clear: most of the population has discovered that our homes can become trenches and we are able to manage our free time with ourselves, despite the fact that we are social animals and need others. Also that, despite the fact that we are social animals, the phrase popularized by Hobbes, "man is a wolf to man" is a fact in these situations where such a threat (such as a global pandemic) makes us feel vulnerable and fight for individual survival.

These opposite tendencies will have to be known in order to modulate our behaviors without reaching extremes that can generate discomfort in others and in ourselves.

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