The reason we are panic buying due to the
imminent threat of COVID-19 is because
the brain's survival mode overrides any
rational decision making, says Dr. Ali
Fenwick, an expert in human behaviour at
Nyenrode Business University. According
to Dr. Fenwick there are four main reasons
why we bulk buy:
1) Survival mode
When we are put in an uncertain or
threatening situation, our more primitive
part of the brain takes over. We fall back on
survival mode, suppressing or distorting
rational decision-making, which in case
of grocery shopping leads to bulk buying.
We are buying to 'survive'. Although the
government promises there will be no
disruption to food supply, we don't know
this for sure as most of us have not been
in a similar situation before. So, we rather
buy more food than we normally would.
2) The Scarcity Effect
When products become scarce, people
perceive them as more valuable. We
are more willing to go out and buy, and
even pay more, for scare products.
Scarcity drives buying behaviours, even
for products we might not actually want.
Which explains why we buy more food
than we need to have or why people are
currently on the run for toilet paper.
3) Herd Behaviour
Although you might not bulk buy yourself,
the fact other people around you are,
creates an immediate urge for you to do
the same. In uncertain situations, we tend
to follow what other people do or say,
especially people similar like us. So, if your
friend, family member, or colleague is bulk
Panic buying, as explained by a
doctor of human behaviour
buying you feel you should do the same.
4) Sense of control
The global pandemic is a cause for a lot of
uncertainty in the world and has resulted
in many countries closing their borders
and imposing self-isolation. These
external constraints create an internal
need to exert personal control as a way
to feel safe. Being able to buy things
provides us with a sense of control over
our surroundings, which also leads to us
buying more than we need to have.
Fenwick says, "Bulk buying is
caused by various psychological and
environmental cues which throw rationalthinking out of the window.
survival mode, we mainly let our emotions
drive decisions and are more susceptible
to social influences. So, we will rush out
and buy more because we believe others
are doing the same."
Doesn't mean you should though.
Keep calm, and try not to panic.
ON A (LOO) ROLL
Make more of music
For a distraction from coronavirus,
celebrated cellist Yo-Yo Ma has kicked
off a campaign on Twitter to share
#SongsOfComfort on Twitter with
performances including Bach's Cello
Suite No.3 dedicated to healthcare
workers. If modern music is more your
thing, there's a BBC round-up of online
ad-hoc concerts from bands and artists
who've live-streamed concerts from their
living rooms or home studios, inlcuding
Chris Martin of Coldplay among others.
You may be able to help the NHS. Being a
contact for a chat will certainly help someone
else feel safer and more connected and
might give you something to look forward
to as well while we sit this out.
FULLY CHARGED, a leading electric
bike retailer, is providing eBikes to NHS
workers for free. The initiative will provide
doctors and nurses with a safer, healthier
alternative to using public transport for
their commute in the capital. The bikes
can be hired for three months at no
charge. Fully Charged is also calling on
the rest of the cycling industry to step up
and help frontline staff keep moving while
using public transport as little as possible.
MINDFUL CHEF, a recipe delivery
service, is offering 30% off their healthy
recipe boxes to all NHS workers
throughout this period. If you know any
NHS staff, or you are one yourself, simply
email from your NHS email (or with your
NHS email cc'd in!) and they will help set
you up. email@example.com
HELP THE NHS
(pass it on)