To combat COVID-19, behavioral pitfalls must be addressed

April 23, 2020

PRINCETON, N.J.--During any crisis, timely, and sometimes life-altering, decisions must be made, requiring an extreme amount of sound judgment under uncertainty. The Covid-19 pandemic is no different.

In a commentary piece for The Lancet, researchers from Princeton University and the Sunnybrook Research Institute review eight behavioral pitfalls that challenge these judgments. Among the issues they explore are common human traits: a fear of the unknown, personal embarrassment, and hindsight bias, among others.

The co-authors suggest that awareness of these pitfalls might help to maintain the behavior changes needed to fight the Covid-19 pandemic. They also offer solutions.

"Following the strong initial reactions to such a challenging and difficult time, awareness of judgmental pitfalls might help maintain things on the right path," said Eldar Shafir, Class of 1987 Professor in Behavioral Science and Public Policy at Princeton's Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs.

Shafir co-authored the piece with Dr. Donald Redelmeier, senior scientist at the Sunnybrook Research Institute.

The eight pitfalls, and solutions, they explore are as follows.The commentary, "Pitfalls of judgment during the COVID-19 pandemic," will appear online April 23 in The Lancet.
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Comment pieces are written by experts in the field, and represent their own views, rather than necessarily the views of The Lancet or any Lancet specialty journal. Unlike Articles containing original research, not all Comments are externally peer reviewed.

Princeton University, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs

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