The COVID-19 pandemic has forced millions of people to live under strict lockdown conditions, but the psychology of human behavior predicts they will find it harder to stick to the rules the longer the situation continues.
News of people flouting the lockdown rules has been circulating in social media. And the thing is it is not limited to a country or state. The condition is seen all over the world. It does not even belong to your level of education or awareness about the pandemic. The behavior of breaking rules is simply rooted in psychology.
During a pandemic, when a measure like a lockdown is implemented, initially the people follow it because of fear, as we know that during the time of crisis like a danger or a pandemic our central emotion is of fear and survival.
But as time passes and the fear slowly starts to diminish then our willingness to follow the measure also begins to fall apart. Because then, after some time an optimism bias makes us think that it won’t happen to me.
In addition to individual psychology there are also group and cultural psychology at work.
For example, an individual may be perfectly ok following a lockdown for his own well-being. But, if the people in his vicinity behave as if everything is normal. Playing, socializing and roaming around, this can lead him to think why can’t I do it. This is because in times of crisis, as social beings, we also look at others to set our own social behaviors.
Same in the case of cultural psychology. If a culture is categorized as a tight culture where people are expected to follow the authority, then in those cultures people more or less will follow the guidelines issued by the relevant authority even if they are unwilling to do so.
But in some open cultures or loose cultures where individuality and freedom are given more importance, there are more chances of people flouting the issued guidelines and being slow to self-regulate.