Even with a vaccine, we need to adjust our mindset to playing the COVID-19 long game

published 11.01.2021 10:18

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Governments face the unenviable task of communicating enough positivity to motivate people to continue the fight without eventually losing credibility when unexpected bad news or delays occur.

From a psychological standpoint, consistency plays an important role when it comes to people's trust in authority and their willingness to follow rules, particularly when it comes to the type of long-term response required in a pandemic.

A battle of willpower The sacrifices that governments are continuing to ask people to make require self-control.

But behavioral science warns us that dashed hopes, uncertainty, changing goalposts and broken credibility can play a major role in how long people strictly follow rules and maintain good habits.

As new outbreaks have cropped up in New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland in recent weeks, governments have responded with stringent new measures to prevent the spread of the virus, including border closures, mask mandates and temporary lockdowns.

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