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Woman Takes To Facebook To Inspire Some Common Sense Among COVID-19 Outbreak Hoarders (Interview With Expert)
From toilet paper and hand sanitizer to food with a long shelf life, some people are buying up massive amounts of things and leaving very little for everyone else who might actually need these things.
Woman Takes To Facebook To Inspire Some Common Sense Among COVID-19 Outbreak Hoarders (Interview With Expert)
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Hoarding. That’s a word we used to mostly associate with dragons who protect the treasure in their caves. The coronavirus health crisis has shown that some of us have a small dragon inside of us. A dragon that likes stockpiling and hoarding products because we fear our lives may be in danger.

From toilet paper and hand sanitizer to food with a long shelf life, some people are buying up massive amounts of things and leaving very little for everyone else who might actually need these things. Twitter user NatFigBar shared a post she saw on Facebook about how we should all avoid our instinct to stockpile things because everyone else is doing this. Because this hurts others more than it helps us.

While some people supported NatFigBar’s message that we should all calm down, others responded that this is a question of survival and that they and their families come first.

What we’re seeing now is a battle between social responsibility and survival, public and personal interests. At the end of the day, it’s up to all of us to come together to get over the crisis, not fragment into tiny competing factions.

Bored Panda reached out to David Savage, associate professor of behavioral and microeconomics at the University of Newcastle in Australia, about stockpiling supplies and panic buying. However, Dr. Savage stated that what we’re seeing now can’t technically be called “panic” because the coronavirus situation doesn’t meet the scientific criteria for that term.

“What I think is actually occurring is not panic, but we are succumbing to several other behavioral issues, specifically herd behavior and loss aversion (regret),” he said.

“When we see others acting in a certain way we have historical makeup that wants us to conform with the group… i.e. we should also do the same. Or at the very least we stop and think about the behavior and wonder if we should also be doing that. This is also ingrained in us through social norms where we are supposed to act in a specific way in certain circumstances (think women and children first).”

Dr. Savage continued: “The other issue is the loss aversion, this is caused because we experience losses much more keenly than gains. Losing $100 feels worse than winning $100 (research shows it is actually about double, i.e. losing $100 feels like losing $200). So when we see shelves being cleared out we want to make sure that we don’t miss out, the other problem here is regret, if we later realize that we needed the toilet paper and we didn’t get it when we had the chance we will really feel bad.”

“Both of these can lead to overstocking rather than under, and game theory tells us that if we know that the shelves will be empty when the pandemic is officially called we want to get in a little early. But, so does everyone else… so we get in even earlier… then so does everyone else… This is called backward induction. Eventually, people would act immediately rather than risk others getting in before them.”

Dr. Savage pointed out that the decisions we make under uncertainty are more “volatile” than those we make in a rational (“cold”) state. “It is rational to prepare for something bad that looks like it is likely to occur, it is not rational to buy 500 cans of baked beans for what would likely be a two-week isolation period.”

Meanwhile, Steven Taylor, a professor and clinical psychologist at the University of British Columbia who wrote The Psychology of Pandemics, warned that irrational stockpiling can lead to price gouging and scalping.

“If the price of a roll of toilet paper is tripled, that’s seen as a scarcer commodity to acquire, which can lead to anxiety,” he pointed out.

Tailor also explained that we have to make a distinction between disaster preparation and panic buying. The former is rational and useful. The latter is irrational and fueled by anxiety. We try to reduce that anxiety by buying more than we need and queueing for hours on end.

“Under circumstances like these, people feel the need to do something that’s proportionate to what they perceive is the level of the crisis. We know that washing your hands and practicing coughing hygiene is all you need to do at this point,” Taylor said.

“But for many people, hand-washing seems to be too ordinary. This is a dramatic event, therefore a dramatic response is required, so that leads to people throwing money at things in hopes of protecting themselves.”

Comments (24)
Kevin Hickey
Your kid is not hanging off of a cliff next to another kid and a pregnant woman. That's not what's happening, in fact, that will never happen.
Lorie Scarlett
I shop every week and even if I haven’t used my supply I still by my staples , like the pack of toilet paper, a package of wet wipes, hand sanitizer, shampoo , laundry soap. I never go buy out the store. So every month I’ll buy a 30 roll pack of toilet paper I’m glad I do because otherwise I wouldn’t be able to get any. We have 6 teenagers in our household. And yet I told a neighbor if they needed wipes because people are hoarding I have some they can have. To me it is money already spent and gone. I have neighbors with young children that can’t get ahold of what they need because people are hoarding. If you are sick don’t go out, if your kids are sick keep them home then we wouldn’t have epidemics and pandemics. Be human and how God wants us to be loving , help each other
Uncommon Boston
People raced to store to buy extra toilet paper before every storm when i lived in Virginia. I still dont understand why, there were other items purchased but toilet paper made the least sense. We always have at least a month worth of toilet paper in the house, regardless of the weather.
Unfortunately it's a little too late. Due to all the panic shopping, people are having to stock up just to ensure they have enough to get by. Also because of all the limitations going out, people are worried about whether they will be able to get out or places will close.
Kathy Baylis
Sure, supply your family first—-but only a reasonable calculation of what your family will use the next two to four weeks, and NOT what your entire region of the country will need! If there are two of you, I doubt you go through a twelve-pack of toilet paper in a week (my husband and I don’t, even during the times we’ve both had food poisoning or the stomach flu), so maybe buy an extra pack or two at most, OK. But not the whole damn shelf, ffs!
pusheen buttercup
to the people saying #myfamilyfirst- I totally agree, with putting ones' family first, however this is a unique situation where putting your family first also means a little bit of looking out for the rest of the world, because the rest of the world is what is currently surrounding your family. :) This isn't a cliff it's more like a puddle of water around one dry spot.
What is the point of stockpiling toilet paper? It is very stupid and unessary.
I don't get why people are going bananas over toilet paper, you can use water to clean yourself up.
Toasty Little Beamer
Yeah, what's with the toilet paper?
Sue Prewitt
You want to see the stuff some people are hording? Go look at Ebay. It's disgusting.
Yes the hoarding is insane and I hear so many people agree with that yet I still can't buy toilet paper for my elderly grandparents. I live in a small, quaint, rural town. Sounds great right? Looks great too..... on the surface. But the reality is, even with friendly reminders to only buy one paper product at a time on the shelf, I've still been unable to buy tp for almost two weeks. We are using paper towels right now. There are no paper towels or Kleenex on the shelves either, so when the paper towels run out, then what? I'm not worried about me, and my kids are tough too. But my grandparents should be able to buy four rolls of tp. It's just ridiculous. I feel like if this thing gets worse, I have all the clues I need to know how people will react. And it scares me.....
Someone stole my cart, and almost stole my kid but he got off the cart. People are assholes
Joanna Jania
Hoarders nowadays deserve special place in hell
Real Joe Biden
I love toilet paper and choccy milk.
Rose the Cook
We buy in bulk normally, simply to save money. Don't eat a lot of meat and the freezer is full including milk, could go 6 weeks easily baking our own bread and just topping up fresh vegetables and fruit. There is no need to panic if you are organised unless you have a very limited income and have to shop payday to payday.
no one cares about you
no one cares about you
So fucking what...did you not think hoarding was not going to happen? People are just mad cause they didn't think of it first.
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