Psychology can explain why coronavirus drives us to panic buy. It also provides tips on how to stop




Melissa Norberg, Macquarie University and Derek Rucker, Northwestern University

In an address on Wednesday, Prime Minister Scott Morrison expressed his dismay at the hordes of “panic buyers” sweeping supermarket shelves clean across the country:

Stop hoarding. I can’t be more blunt about it. Stop it. It is not sensible, it is not helpful and it has been one of the most disappointing things I have seen in Australian behaviour in response to this crisis.

It started with toilet paper, and now many non-perishable foods are difficult to source, as shoppers stockpile in preparation for the worst.

But is there a rationale for such behaviour? And how can we move beyond our psychological impulses to shop smarter, and consider the needs of others?

COVID-19 – an unwitting stress test

The coronavirus outbreak is not only a time of uncertainty, but also a period in which many of us are experiencing social isolation. Both of these factors can psychologically motivate people to buy things they don’t need.

Feeling unable to tolerate uncertainty is associated with more extreme hoarding behaviour. Hoarding entails the collection of more items than can be feasibly used, to the point of impeding the functionality of a home. Even though the behaviours we’re seeing may not be “hoarding” in this sense, they’re likely driven by the same psychological mechanisms.

One of the strongest predictors of hoarding behaviour is an individual’s perceived inability to tolerate distress. If it’s in a person’s general nature to avoid distress, they may be at risk of buying more products than they can feasibly use during the pandemic.

For such people, it may be difficult to believe authorities when they announce supermarkets will not close. Or, if they do believe them, they may decide it’s best to “prep”, just in case things change.




Read more:
When possessions are poor substitutes for people: hoarding disorder and loneliness


The coronavirus also reminds many people of their own mortality, and this can lead to an increase in spending to offset fear.

Even if a person typically feels able to handle distress, they may still end up buying more than they need. Seeing empty shelves can trigger an urge to snatch what is left. Research on the “scarcity heuristic” suggests we assume items are more valuable if they are in low supply.

Also, consumer goods are more than functional. Products and brands also serve psychological purposes and can change how we feel. For example, some people turn to alcoholto alleviate anxiety or distress.

How to overcome psychological forces

So how can we make rational decisions, when multiple psychological forces make this difficult?

While no perfect remedy exists, cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) techniques can help people avoid making decisions based on unhelpful urges and emotions. CBT has been shown to improve intolerance of uncertainty, and reduce anxiety and fear.

CBT involves problem-solving and engaging in avoided behaviour to test the validity of one’s beliefs. The idea is to challenge unhelpful thoughts, and make decisions based on evidence.

To apply this approach when shopping during the coronavirus pandemic, you should start by taking stock of the items you already have at home, and how long they will last.

When stocking up, it’s important to limit waste and be considerate. It’s not helpful to buy food that spoils, or buy so many products that others, including the elderly, experience hardship. Buying 100 rolls of toilet paper is useless if it takes a year to use them.




Read more:
Scott Morrison has said we’ll face at least 6 months of disruption. Where does that number come from?


Food waste can be limited by developing meal plans for the next two to three weeks, keeping in mind when certain products expire. By focusing your attention on what you will realistically use during this time, you can make more informed decisions about what to buy.

It’s OK to feel anxious

When shopping, take a list with you to guide your purchases, and try your best to stick to it. This way, you’ll be less likely to succumb to anxiety-driven purchases triggered by the sight of empty shelves, or thoughts of supermarkets closing. That said, be willing to buy substitutes if certain items are sold out. You can plan for this in advance.

You may start to feel anxious when only buying items for use in the immediate future. That’s OK. Numerous research trials have shown people can tolerate anxiety, and that changing unhelpful behaviour reduces anxiety in the long run.

Research has also shown people who chronically hoard can tolerate distress better than they think. So, while anxiety may be inevitable for some on their next shopping trip, they will likely be able to tolerate it. And it may be reduced if the above strategies are adopted.

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, Australians had a problem of buying things they didn’t need. We’re the ninth-largest contributor of household waste per person in the world, spending more than A$10.5 billion each year on goods and services we rarely use. Over half of that expenditure is for food that gets wasted.

Perhaps understanding the psychological mechanisms underpinning our shopping behaviour can help us make more rational purchases during this time of uncertainty.The Conversation

Melissa Norberg, Associate Professor in Psychology, Macquarie University and Derek Rucker, Professor of Marketing, Northwestern University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

How a time of panic buying could yet bring us together



Twitter

Gary Mortimer, Queensland University of Technology and Jana Bowden, Macquarie University

For every headline about panic buying, fighting and even arrests in supermarkets, we see other stories about communities and individuals rallying in support of each other. These interpersonal connections reveal our true humanity, especially in times of crisis.

The popular belief is that such times provoke “frenzied selfishness and brutal survival-of-the-fittest competition”. It’s the stuff of apocalyptic-genre movies, like Steven Soderbergh’s 2011 pandemic movie, Contagion, for which downloads have surged since January.




Read more:
Coronavirus and COVID-19: your questions answered by virus experts


The classical view is that, faced with high stress or threats, a “fight or flight” response is hardwired into us. So people become aggressive in the supermarket, or avoid it altogether by going online.

However, recent research indicates that acute stress, lack of control, or feelings of vulnerability might actually lead to more cooperative and pro-social behaviour.


ABC Melbourne Facebook

The notion of karma – to act in a way as you wish others to act – explains these behaviours. In 2012, University of Chicago researchers studied how people behaved when faced with outcomes beyond their personal control. The findings of their experiments supported the idea of “karmic investment” by showing that respondents who “desired an outcome over which they had little control”:

  • increased donations of time and money

  • made more generous pledges

  • became more optimistic after acting in a pro-social manner.

As the current crisis develops, we would expect to see more and more people sharing food and groceries, behaving more hospitably toward each other and becoming more aware of vulnerable others. Developing social connections in times of crisis may be necessary for our collective survival as a species.

When disaster brings out the best in us

Most people look to support one another in such times. From natural disasters, like bushfires, droughts and floods, to human-enacted events, such as mass shootings or food contamination, after the initial feelings of fear, anxiety and helplessness, people soon come together to help one another. An underlying sense of community and connection is the “social glue” that brings people together to work altruistically for the common good.

During the recent Australian bushfires, social media were flooded with images of notes pinned to doors inviting volunteer fire fighters to “help themselves to what ever is in the fridge”.

The “Buy from the Bush” campaign was launched to support small businesses in rural and regional areas struggling with the drought.

A year ago, after the mass shooting in Christchurch, New Zealand women began wearing headscarves in solidarity with Muslims.




Read more:
Remembering my friend, and why there is no right way to mourn the Christchurch attacks


When unknown individuals began inserting needles into strawberries, the “Cut Them Up, Don’t Cut Them Out” campaign showed national consumer solidarity with the growers.

‘There’s no community without unity. If you are in need please take’ says the sign on this box offering toilet paper in Northcote, Melbourne.
ABC Melbourne Facebook

In response to panic buying of toilet paper, Nine journalist Jelisa Apps started a Facebook community site, Neighbourly Love, after an encounter with a distressed elderly shopper. Designed to bring community together, it’s a place to ask for help or provide help.

While we are often quick to criticise our big banks, airlines and retailers, in the past week many have stepped up to help vulnerable people. Companies like Commonwealth Bank, Woolworths and Telstra have said they plan to pay casual team members who are unable to come to work if they need to self-isolate or become ill with coronavirus.

The public is seeking comfort, security and predictability. Collective and altruistic movements by businesses, such as Woolworths’ partnership with Meals on Wheels to support older people and people with disabilities, help provide the community with a sense of agency and positive action.




Read more:
Why are people stockpiling toilet paper? We asked four experts


These initiatives not only remind people of their own core values, but also appeal to the common values of their society. From a consumer psychology perspective, these programs are designed to connect society, appeal to the Australian sense of mateship and protect the greater good no matter our differences.

People are strongly influenced by group identity as a source of security in a crisis. Overarching values and goals bring people together.

Why we help one another in times of stress

We are being exposed to events that create anxiety, stress and even fear. Yet, in the process, we begin to empathise with those affected and imagine how we might cope in similar situations. Reaching out to people who are affected, either emotionally, physically or financially, can help us re-establish feelings of power and control.

As we see others behaving in the same “pro-social” way, we are reminded we live in a civilised society. This provides clarity and confidence and reduces our stress levels.

Engaging with others in a pro-social manner protects us from isolation and the idea that no one understands our pain. People do better physically, emotionally and psychologically when they connect with others in times of suffering. In 2012, researchers found that “connecting” in this way provides a sense of protection and safety.

Humans are social beings, designed to live cooperatively. Helping one another in a crisis is both a practical way to collect and share resources, and important for our own well-being.

Responding as a community

Altruism itself is “contagious”. When businesses, public figures and the general public begin to engage in goodwill, this powerfully bonds communities together.

The social capital generated though formal and informal networks can be used to raise awareness about causes and vulnerable members of society, and to mobilise community action. Collective action then reinforces a sense of common purpose and safety in numbers.

In the case of COVID-19, a well-connected and informed community can respond more effectively. This will enable us not only to survive the crisis as individuals, but also to support community recovery in the longer term.The Conversation

Gary Mortimer, Professor of Marketing and Consumer Behaviour, Queensland University of Technology and Jana Bowden, Associate Professor of Marketing and Consumer Behaviour, Macquarie University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Article: Music – Do We Buy It Any More?


I don’t often buy music any more. On the odd occasion I may, if I believe the price is reasonable, grab a CD or these days something of the iTunes site. Generally though I stopped buy music a long time ago. Why? Well, in my opinion it was far too overpriced. A CD with just 8 songs on it or perhaps even less than 8, for the price they were charging – no way!

Now I have a subscription to Spotify and I can stream (and save playlists to my lap top) music for a very reasonable price. Not everything is on Spotify, but I will still buy something from iTunes should I wish to – such as a couple of The Voice Australia songs.

For me, buying music or not buying music was never about could I get a pirated version. I stopped buying music because it was too costly to do so. I think the music industry got too greedy.

I think a similar thing with books. Traditional printed books cost too much to buy generally speaking and besides that I’m now a digital geek so ebooks are my thing.

For more on the music debate visit:
http://www.neatorama.com/2012/06/20/the-eternal-debate-of-nobody-buys-music-anymore/

Unnamed Christians Accused after Muslim Attack in Pakistan


Armed Islamic assault following fruit stand scuffle leads to police round-up of Christians.

KARACHI, Pakistan, February 26 (CDN) — In the wake of an attack this week by 150 armed Muslims on a Christian colony in this city in Sindh Province, police have filed a false First Information Report (FIR) against 40 unnamed Christians and arrested five, Christian leaders said.

They said the 40 unnamed Christians in the FIR are accused without basis with beating Muslim men, abusing Muslim women and girls, ransacking Muslim homes and looting expensive items from Muslim homes. The false FIR is designed only to harass the Christian community, they said, adding that the five arrested Christians were visitors to the area – the only ones on the street available for police to summarily round up, as they were unaware of the FIR.

Some 150 armed Muslims assaulted the Christian colony of Pahar Ganj in North Nazimabad, Karachi, on Sunday (Feb. 21), damaging two churches, shooting at houses, beating Christians and burning shops and vehicles after a fruit stand vendor attacked a Christian boy for touching his merchandise.

Christian leaders said Muslim extremists helped gather and inflame the assailants, but they said the fruit stand vendor upset with the 14-year-old Christian boy for touching plums on his hand-pulled cart initially instigated the attack. The unnamed vendor reportedly had a previous conflict with the boy, whose name was also withheld, and in objecting to the teenager’s actions he slashed his hand with a fruit knife and threw an iron weight at him, Christian leaders said.

A Muslim eyewitness who spoke on condition of anonymity said the fruit stand was located at the entrance of the colony of more than 1,000 Christian homes. Eyewitnesses said that Christians struck the fruit vendor in the course of rescuing the boy from him.

Touching and even tasting fruit before buying is a common practice in Pakistan, according to Pakistan Christian TV, and the vendor called his fruit “defiled” not because the boy was a Christian – nearly all customers in that area were Christians – but because the vendor had a previous conflict with him and did not want to sell to him.

Social class evidently also played a role. Eyewitnesses said the Muslim fruit vendor yelled, “This Christian Bhangi untouchable has defiled my fruit.” The derogatory “Bhangi,” literally “sewer man,” is commonly used to denigrate Christians in Sindh Province. In the Sindhi language it signifies “unholy” or “untouchable,” with its Punjabi equivalent being “Choohra.”

The conflict quickly took on a religious tint. Bystanders tried to help resolve the conflict between the vendor and the boy, according to eyewitnesses, but the street seller riled up Muslims, mainly those of the Pathan clan, by saying, “My Muslim brethren, pay heed to me – that Christian Bhangi has defiled my fruit and made blasphemous remarks about the Quran.” Later that day, the Christian leaders said, the 150 armed Pathan men attacked the area Christians, who responded by pelting them with stones.

The Rev. Edward Joseph of St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Karachi said the furious Muslim mob of armed, mainly Pathan men, gathered at the entrance of the Christian slum and charged in, attacking homes and desecrating and vandalizing St. Mary’s Church of Pakistan and the Interdenominational Calvary Church. Noor Sahotra, a Christian in Pahar Ganj, said he sustained minor injuries in an effort protect St. Mary’s Church of Pakistan.

Anwer Masih, a Christian who witnessed the attack, told Compass that several shops owned and run by Christians were looted and then set on fire, reducing them to ashes and depriving Christians of their livelihood. The rampaging mob also burned vehicles and tires at the main entrance of colony, he said.    

Previously the Rev. Aashiq Pervaiz, head of Interdenominational Calvary Church, reportedly had said Christian leaders had decided not to file charges against the Muslim assailants – presumably to forestall the counter-charges that Muslims typically file as a defensive measure in such conflicts.

More than 200 Christians and Muslims reportedly gathered to resolve tensions on Monday (Feb. 22), with Pervaiz telling the throng that the Christians forgave the attackers and had not filed any charges against assailants.

Shahid Kamal, national director of the Pakistan Campus Crusade for Christ, told Compass that the FIR that Muslims filed against Christians was registered at Noor-e-Jehan road, North Nazimabad Pahar Ganj police station. He said Pahar Gangj police had arrested five Christian visitors to Christian families of the colony.

The Rev. Razzaq Mathews said Muslims have frequently leveled baseless charges of blasphemy against area Christians.

“In the sad Pahar Ganj episode, Christians were attacked for nothing,” he said. “A handful of Muslim extremists persuaded Muslims to assail the Christian residential area as well as to desecrate the holy churches and holy Christian books, including Bible.”

He said the attack lasted for almost two hours.   

Sources told Compass that local politicians and clergymen from both sides were trying to broker a truce. They said Pakistani Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gillani has taken notice of the incident and directed the deputy inspector general of Central Karachi district to investigate and submit a report.

Report from Compass Direct News 

Pakistani Muslims Gun Down Christian Friend


They order him to convert to Islam or die, after accusing him of murder.

MUREEDKAY, Pakistan, December 21 (CDN) — A group of Muslims shot their Christian friend dead this month on the outskirts of this town after saying they would spare his life only if he recanted his faith, according to the young man’s father.

The friends of Patras Masih, who died from gunshot wounds on Dec. 3 in Karol village, Punjab Province, issued the ultimatum to him after accusing him of the murder of their friend Anees Mahammad. An autopsy reported showed Mahammad died from toxic alcohol earlier that day.

Patras Masih’s father, Gulzar Masih, said his son was at home on that day, had no contact with Mahammad, and that his friends accused him of the murder only because he refused to recant Christianity and embrace Islam.

On Dec. 1, Mahammad and three other Muslim friends of Patras Masih – Sohail Muhammad, Imran Muhammad and Amir Muhammad – had arrived with unknown Muslim men and asked Masih to help them find liquor, Gulzar Masih told Compass. Pakistani law forbids Muslims from buying or consuming alcohol. Locally brewed liquor in rural areas of Pakistan can be fatally toxic; this month 14 people died from locally brewed, toxic liquor in Pakistan’s Punjab Province, news website Express India reported today.

“On that night,” Gulzar Masih said, “I also heard them saying in a commanding way in the drawing room of our house, ‘You [Patras Masih] ought to accept Islam and recant your faith, otherwise you and your family will be responsible for the dire consequences.’”   

Patras Masih held fast to his faith, his father said; leaving with his Muslim friends, he bought them a couple of bottles of liquor and returned home.

His voice full of grief, Gulzar Masih said that on Dec. 3, his son’s three Muslim friends arrived at their doorway yelling that he had killed Mahammad, and that they would spare his life only if he converted to Islam. They accused Patras Masih of serving Mahammad a toxic drink in their home the previous day.

When Patras Masih refused to recite the Islamic conversion creed, his father said, Sohail Muhammad, Imran Muhammad and Amir Muhammad sprayed bullets at his chest, killing him instantly.

“My son bravely refused to recant Christianity and clung to Christ,” Gulzar Masih said, dejected but with a small smile on his face. “He bravely embraced martyrdom.”

He said these same three friends on several occasions had pressured Patras Masih to convert to Islam, “but my son never accepted their invitation and always turned down their request to recant Christianity in a healthy and polite manner.”

When his father asked him about his friends’ Dec. 1 threats, Patras Masih told him that they often insisted that he become a Muslim. Though the young men had been friends since childhood, Gulzar Masih told his son to stop seeing them, he said. 

Sternly denying that his son was capable of killing a human being., he pointed out that Patras Masih’s friends accused him of serving Mahammad a toxic drink at Masih’s home on Dec. 2, but that Mahammad died on Dec. 3.

“Surely it is a conspiracy against him because he refused to meet their unreasonable demands,” the frail, bereaved father said. “They were ready to spare him only if he converted to Islam by reciting the holy Kalima [Islamic affirmation of faith], an emblem that one has become a Muslim.” 

He said that all four Muslim men had been friends of Patras Masih since childhood.

Gulzar Masih said that Ferozewala police have registered a murder case against the three suspects, but that they are all still at large and his family is vulnerable to further attacks.

Report from Compass Direct News 

CHINA PASTOR RELEASED FROM PRISON AFTER INTERNATIONAL ATTENTION


A Chinese human rights watchdog organization says a Christian House Church leader has been freed by government authorities as the result of international pressure.

In a media release ChinaAid says that

at 6 p.m. on April 24, Pastor Lou Yuanqi of Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region was released from prison under the provision of “bailed out waiting for trial, ” a legal procedure called “qu bao hou shen.”

ChinaAid said: “Though this provision allows for future arrest and prosecution, Pastor Lou was released and permitted to return home. The provision’s purpose is also to prevent Pastor Lou or his family from filing an administrative lawsuit against the state for compensation for illegal detention time.”

The media release explains that Xinjiang authorities could not find evidence sufficient to continue his prosecution and indictment. According to family members, Pastor Lou looked fragile, because of the horrible conditions he suffered in prison. He suffers from hepatitis B, and is in great need of medical attention.

It adds: “Pastor Lou’s faith is very strong, and he, his wife Wang Wenxiu and their three children are overwhelmed by the response from the international community.”

According to ChinaAid, Pastor Lou was first detained on May 17, 2008 at 1 p.m. in Qingshuihe town, Huocheng county of Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region. Pastor Lou stood trial on December 15, 2008 on charges of “utilizing superstition to undermine the law.”

ChinaAid stated: “Those close to the case say the authorities’ motivation for the charge was to stop Lou’s house church from meeting in his home. Immediately after Lou’s trial, his daughter, Lou Tiantian, 18, was beaten by court police when she tried to speak with her father as he was being put into a police car.”

ChinaAid says that later, the court issued a statement, declaring “the facts [in Pastor Lou’s case] unclear and the evidence insufficient.” Despite this ruling, Pastor Lou continued to be imprisoned until his release on April 24.

Two other Xinjiang Christians, Alimujiang Yimiti and Wusiman Yiming, are currently suffering in prison for their faith, according to the ChinaAid media release.

Alimujiang Yimiti, a Uyghur Christian, was first detained on the charge of “endangering the security of the state,” then was officially arrested on February 20, 2008 for “suspicion of inciting secession and organizing people in stealing, spying, buying and illegally providing state secrets or intelligence to overseas organizations.”

However, ChinaAid says sources say the real reason for his detention is because of his Christian faith and witness among the Uyghur people. Alimujiang was seen March 31 around 10 a.m. (local time) at Nongsanshi (Military Farm) Hospital in Kashgar. His hands were bound and he was observed being roughly escorted by police and a prison doctor while repeatedly crying out to onlookers in Chinese, “I’m sick. Tell my lawyer to come quickly to see me.”

Wusiman Yiming, another Uyghur Christian, was sentenced to two years of re-education through labor in September 2007 for “revealing state secrets” and “illegal proselytizing.”

ChinaAid sources say that he was, in fact, sentenced because of his boldness as a Christian and a leader in the Uyghur church. Sources report that he has aged dramatically in the labor camp and his health is deteriorating due to harsh conditions.

“We welcome the release of this innocent pastor who has been arbitrarily detained for more than a year simply for his Christian faith related activities,” said ChinaAid’s Bob Fu.

“We urge the Xinjiang authorities to release other innocent people of faith such as Alimujiang Yimiti and Wusiman Yiming.”

Report from the Christian Telegraph

ISRAEL Vs HAMAS: THERE CAN ONLY BE ONE WINNER HERE


I am continually bewildered by the condemnation that is always dumped on Israel when it seeks to protect itself from terrorist aggression. I feel terribly sorry for innocent Palestinian people caught in the middle of this conflict between Israel and Hamas (as well as other terrorist organisations operating against Israel). However, while Palestinians actively support the likes of Hamas, it is difficult for me to accept their criticism of Israel (or that of other nations, whether they be Islamic or Western).

What other nation would sit on its hands when a group is actively terrorising and bombing its citizens? None I would suspect, yet this is what so many expect Israel to do. They must strike at those they know are responsible for targeting and killing its citizens. Hamas must be destroyed for a peaceful resolution of the Gaza Strip situation.

Why is Israel condemned for its occupation of Palestinian lands in Gaza, the West bank and the Golan Heights areas? Did not these areas come into Israeli hands as a result of the Six Day War in which Arab nations attempted to obliterate the Israeli nation? Haven’t these Arab nations and Arab groups constantly attempted to destroy Israel and haven’t some of these groups and nations made it their pledge to do so? Aren’t these areas close to the Israeli border used by terrorist group to fire rockets into Israel – then why shouldn’t Israel occupy them if it means protecting their people?

Surely the surrounding nations and Palestinians can’t legitimately declare their innocence in the face of Israeli retaliation? Who are they fooling? It seems that quite a number of gullible people and nations out there are buying it – but these people are simply ignoring the origins of the conflict with a biased view.

Hamas has to be stopped or there can be no peace. Hamas cannot defeat the might of the Israeli military – there can only be one winner here.

BELOW: Footage of the conflict in Gaza which needs to be understood in the face of constant rocket attacks on Israel

BELOW: Typical propaganda from anti-Israeli sources (beware – it is offensive):