Description: Ok, time to take stock! What kinds of Psychology have people been doing as they try to make sense out of other people’s behaviour in relation to the pandemic over the past few months (or whole year)? There has certainly been a LOT more “Psychologizing” going on involving many things such as failures to social distance, not wearing masks, creating a scene after being asked to wear a mask sometimes referred to as being a Karen (with apologies to my sister), hoarding toilet paper, expressing anti-vaxing views, vacationing in Mexico or Hawaii as a break from being a government official or politician and the list goes on and on. Media and just folks in zoom or phone conversations pile on with attribution s about what is “wrong with people” in ways that amount to amateur Psychology. Now, I am not opposed to amateur Psychology, but mixing it in with some professional Psychology or with peer reviewed Psychological research findings can help us to see more clearly some of the possible shortcomings in the attributions we are making in relation to others’ behavior. Take a moment and think about some areas where our attributions regarding other people’s behavior might be problematic (hint: if you have taken and Introductory Psychology course, think about typical differences in how we make attributions about our own as opposed to other people’s behavior). Once you have your thoughts in order have a read through the article linked below to see what a Psychologist has come up with after reflect ring on this question.
Source: For Psychologists, the pandemic has shown people’s capacity for cooperation, Stephen Reicher, The Guardian.
Date: January 2, 2021
One of the recurrent themes in the wide range of things I have found to post about in relation to the Psychology of Covid is the social aspects of the pandemic including, our reactions and responses to the loss of social contact, unexpected shifts in social norms and practices, and the difficulties associated with understanding what it actually means to say “we are all in this together” (why we say it and what we might do with others who seems to need to have things like that said to them). The article’s point that the fundamental attribution error pops up A LOT in our efforts to figure out “what is wrong with those people” is well worth reflecting upon. Perhaps it is not a random happenstance that issues of race, racism and equality (or the lack thereof) have been featured parts of our experience over the past year. Finally, some reflection on the social events and actions that may be the key aspects of our overall individual and shared resilience may help us to see that we are fundamentally social, even in our individual psychology. If we are all thinking Psychologically more than ever these days, we will get more benefit from doing so if we adopt a broad reflective perspective.
Questions for Discussion:
- What are some differences in how we make attributions when trying to make sense out of our own and other people’s behavior in relation to the pandemic?
- What sorts of situations do we tend to jump too quickly to laying blame of other people’s motives for their behavior?
- What are some ways in which deeper consideration of the social/historical contexts of individual or group behavior might help keep us from jumping to inappropriately blaming conclusions?
References (Read Further):
Ross, L. (1977). The intuitive psychologist and his shortcomings: Distortions in the attribution process. In Advances in experimental social psychology (Vol. 10, pp. 173-220). Academic Press. Link
Mols, F., Haslam, S. A., Jetten, J., & Steffens, N. K. (2015). Why a nudge is not enough: A social identity critique of governance by stealth. European Journal of Political Research, 54(1), 81-98. Link
Van Bavel, J., & Boggio, P. (2020). National identity predicts public health support during a global pandemic. Link
Reicher, S., Drury, J., & Stott, C. J. T. (2020). The two psychologies of coronavirus. PSYCHOLOGIST, 33, 7-7. Link
Zarrabian, S., & Hassani-Abharian, P. (2020). COVID-19 pandemic and the importance of cognitive rehabilitation. Basic and Clinical Neuroscience, 11(2), 129. Link
Pennycook, G., McPhetres, J., Zhang, Y., Lu, J. G., & Rand, D. G. (2020). Fighting COVID-19 misinformation on social media: Experimental evidence for a scalable accuracy-nudge intervention. Psychological science, 31(7), 770-780. Link
Forsyth, D. R. (2020). Group-level resistance to health mandates during the COVID-19 pandemic: A groupthink approach. Group Dynamics: Theory, Research, and Practice, 24(3), 139. Link