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How We Make Decisions During a Pandemic

‘The idea is if people just have information, then they will make the rational choice. And that’s just wrong.’

Published: Wednesday, July 1, 2020 - 12:02

This story was originally published by Knowable Magazine.

From mask wearing to physical distancing, individuals wield a lot of power in how the coronavirus outbreak plays out. Behavioral experts reveal what might be prompting people to act—or not.

With many states and towns lifting strict stay-at-home orders, people are faced with a growing number of new decisions. Mundane logistical questions—Should I go get my hair cut? When can I picnic with friends? What should I wear to the hardware store?—during the Covid-19 pandemic carry implications for personal and public health, in some cases life-or-death ones.

This article originally appeared in Knowable Magazine, an independent journalistic endeavor from Annual Reviews. Sign up for the newsletter.

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About The Authors

Katherine Harmon Courage’s picture

Katherine Harmon Courage

Katherine Harmon Courage is a freelance journalist, Scientific American contributor, and author of the books Cultured (Avery, an imprint of Penguin Random House, 2019) and Octopus! (Penguin Group, 2013). You can follow her on Twitter for more pandemic—and octopus—coverage at @KHCourage or www.katherinecourage.com.

Knowable Magazine’s picture

Knowable Magazine

Knowable Magazine is an independent journalistic endeavor from Annual Reviews, a nonprofit publisher dedicated to synthesizing and integrating knowledge for the progress of science and the benefit of society. Sign up for Knowable Magazine’s newsletter.