Optimism can hurt people during a pandemic

Being overly optimistic in a pandemic can harm health and psyche, scientists say.

The person tends to overestimate the positive experience while minimizing the likelihood of a negative outcome. Psychologists believe that such a mechanism helps to stay in high spirits and reduce the level of anxiety, but during a pandemic, it can harm a person and those around him, reports CNBC magazine.

Experts say that people have stopped paying attention to the fact that the coronavirus poses a direct threat to them. At the same time, it may seem to many that others are susceptible to infection much more. But there really is no evidence that some people are less at risk than others, says Tali Sharot, a cognitive neuroscientist at University College London.

There is another trick of the psyche, scientists noted: we perceive information selectively, based on personal prejudices. Therefore, when we study the topic of coronavirus and pandemic, we consider important only information that corresponds to our idea of ​​truthfulness and relevance, and often ignore data on negative consequences.

Selective study of a problem becomes especially dangerous when a person’s prejudices begin to divide others, says Daniel Lapsley, professor of psychology at the University of Notre Dame. This solidarity could worsen the coronavirus situation.

However, psychologists also believe that the same mechanisms help people change. “Ask yourself: what is the cost of inaction? What are the potential benefits of following all measures? And most importantly, what do the facts say, not your bias? ”- says psychotherapist Jonathan Alpert.

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