During the Covid-19 virus outbreak, we are all stocking up. Of course, masks were the first to go. Then, hand sanitizers. But why panic buyers snatching .. toilet paper instead of maybe food like instant noodles or rice?
Retailers in many countries even started limiting the number of toilet paper packs customers can buy in a single purchase. Some supermarkets in the UK, Australia, Hong Kong and Singapore are sold out. Grocery stores in Australia even have hired security guards to patrol customers.
The question is toilet paper does not offer special protection against the virus. It’s not considered a staple of impending emergencies, like noodles, milk or bread are. So, Why toilet paper? I always wonder..
Let’s hear out what expert told CNN..
People resort to extremes when they hear conflicting messages
The novel coronavirus scares people because it’s new, and there’s a lot about it that’s still unknown. When people hear conflicting messages about the risk it poses and how seriously they should prepare for it, they tend to resort to the extreme, Steven Taylor is a clinical psychologist and author of “The Psychology of Pandemics,” said.
“When people are told something dangerous is coming, but all you need to do is wash your hands, the action doesn’t seem proportionate to the threat,” he said. “Special danger needs special precautions.”
Some are reacting to the lack of a clear direction from officials
“Unless people have seen … official promises that everyone will be taken care of, they are left to guess at the probability of needing the extra toilet paper, sooner rather than later,” Baruch Fischhoff, a psychologist and professor in the Department of Engineering and Public Policy Carnegie Mellon University told CNN. “The fact that there are no official promises might increase those probabilities.”
Panic buying cause more panic buying
“People, being social creatures, we look to each other for cues for what is safe and what is dangerous,” Taylor said. “And when you see someone in the store, panic buying, that can cause a fear contagion effect.”
All those photos of empty shelves may lead people to believe that they must rush out and grab toilet paper while they still can.
Social media is a huge player in novel coronavirus fear-mongering, Taylor said. Misinformation spreads with ease, and open platforms amplify voices of panic.
It’s natural to want to overprepare
“The novel coronavirus is engendering a sort of survivalist psychology, where we must live as much as possible at home and thus must ‘stock up’ on essentials, and that certainly includes toilet paper,” Frank Farley, a professor at Temple University and former president of the American Psychological Association told CNN. “After all, if we run out of toilet paper, what do we replace it with?”
It allows some to feel a sense of control
“It’s all due to this wave of anticipatory anxiety,” Taylor said. “People become anxious ahead of the actual infection. They haven’t thought about the bigger picture, like what are the consequences of stockpiling toilet paper.”
But people only act that way out of fear. Fischhoff said that preparing, even by purchasing toilet paper, returns a sense of control to what seems like a helpless situation.
“Depending on how people estimate the chances of needing the toilet paper, the hassle might be worth it,” he said. “If it gave them the feeling that they had done everything that they could, it might free them to think about other things than coronavirus.”
Source : CNN