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Coronavirus: Panic or Ignorance.Which is better?

Some stay at home because of the coronavirus, others bus along happily. Which is right? Panic and ignorance are both bad advice. A little more courage to face uncertainty would be good.

When it comes to dealing with hard-to-calculate risks, mankind seems to be splitting in two. Some people are seized by panic, storm the supermarket in case of disaster and just don't want to make a fatal mistake (shake hands, take the bus? Pure madness!). The others, on the other hand, continue to bus defiantly despite more than 130 known corona virus infections in Germany so far, enjoy the empty means of transport and shops and don't get upset when schools close, football matches are played in front of empty stands or the International Tourism Exchange is cancelled because of Sars-CoV-2. Why do people react so differently? And which attitude is better?

The second question is easier to answer: neither of them! Because both panic and ignorance are bad advisors. One makes undoubtedly existing risks seem huge, the other makes people blind to them. However, it is an illusion that there is no alternative between catastrophising and stubbornness. We can acknowledge that the Covid-19 pathogen is on its way around the world without getting into an end-time mood because of it. Or do so demonstratively unimpressed.

How deadly is the coronavirus? What is known about the cases in Germany? How can I protect myself from Sars-CoV-2? We answer these questions and more in our FAQ. You can read more about this topic on our focus page "A new corona virus is spreading worldwide".

A pandemic is bad and a danger especially for old or weakened people. Especially as more of them die from the consequences of the new corona virus than from the usual flu. This is the reason for the current precautionary measures. But this is not the reason why supermarkets and pharmacies have to be emptied and public life brought to a standstill. As right as it is to avoid crowds of people for a while and wash your hands more often than usual, it is just as important to stay calm. Mindfulness is needed more than ever.

The only chance: Weigh up from case to case and take calculated risks

As far as the first question is concerned, the two groups may be separated above all by their tolerance of insecurity. In a study by psychologists at the University of Minnesota, around 100 test persons were asked to play a computer game to help a farmer get to the field before the ravens ate his seed. There was a short, dangerous path and a long, safe one. Symbols also indicated the risk of not getting through on the direct route. The problem: taking the detour would take too long. The farmer would reach his destination safely, but the seed would be destroyed. The only chance: weigh up the options on a case-by-case basis and take calculated risks.

As it turned out, participants with increased anxiety were much less able to do this. No wonder, since anxious people tend to overestimate and generalize risks. But a second factor also played a role: intolerance of uncertainty. People who scored high on a questionnaire were playing it safe even when it didn't help at all, and were increasingly under stress.

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The emotional turmoil surrounding Corona has a seemingly paradoxical effect: it has a relieving effect, so to speak. Fact-resistant anxiety frees us from the obligation to reconsider which measures are reasonable and appropriate. Whoever is on 180 does not need to think any more.

This doesn't explain where the modern insecurity comes from that produces so many strange flowers - from helicopter parents to vaccination sceptics and homeopathy fans. But it does remind us once again not to lapse into headless actionism. It is to be hoped that those responsible in politics, health care and the authorities will not be infected by it. That would be the far more threatening pandemic.

Translated with (free version)

Read the original German article here


Are you facing an impossible mission in the fields of leadership, marketing, communications and/or politics?

Or are you currently struggling with the Corona crisis?

Then it is now the time to contact Mr. Campaigning. Since 1998 he has been supporting startups, global companies, organizations, and individuals. His clients range from "A" like ABB to "W" like the World Economic Forum in Davos.

Impossible is just a word for change.

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