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Psychology of the Pandemic

Dr. Baruch Fischoff | 26:00


Hello, and welcome to Speaking of Psychology, a biweekly podcast from the American Psychological Association that explores the connections between psychological science and everyday life. I'm your host, Caitlin Luna. Fear about the coronavirus has gripped the world as I speak. More than 600 people have died from the virus, and more than 31,000 people have become sick.

That's according to the World Health Organization. Nearly all cases have been in China, but that hasn't stopped people in other countries from worrying here in the us, a dozen or so people have become ill so far. While this new illness certainly is frightening and needs attention, it's important to note that far more people die from an illness.

That's all too familiar. The seasonal flu, an estimated 10,000 people have died from it. This year in the us, according to the Centers for Disease Control, and 19 million have become sickened. Why are we so afraid of this novel Coronavirus, when we are much more likely to catch the flu? Our guests for this episode will explain why we worry about new risks more than familiar ones.

How to calm our anxiety. And what are the psychological effects of being quarantined, which is what is happening to some people who've been exposed to this new bug? Dr. Brooke Fischhoff is a professor at Carnegie Mellon University and an expert on public perception of risk and human judgment and decision making.

Welcome, Dr. Fischhoff. Oh, thank you for having me. And thank you and APA for taking on this issue. Yeah, absolutely. We're happy to have you here today, Dr. Fov. As I just shared, we know that the seasonal flu has sickened and killed way more people in the US than this novel coronavirus, but can you explain why Americans are fearful of this new virus that's out there?

Well, we don't really know how fearful Americans are. There's no systematic research as far as I know, so I can only. Answer based on my own observations and experience with other, uh, health, health prob pandemic, some of which I've had an opportunity to, to work on. Uh, the difference or a major difference between seasonal, flu and coronavirus or other pandemics is that we understand seasonal flu very well, uh, in.

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