Why some people follow strict COVID-19 safety measures and others not so much
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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – Local businesses are taking steps to follow health guidelines. Regardless of personal views, health experts say COVID-19 remains a threat in our communities, and that we should continue protecting ourselves from this virus. But some people have their own feelings about following the health guidelines.

Why?

There are a few things people may ask when it comes to following COVID-19 safety guidelines.
Does protection work? How bad will it be if I get the disease?

Auburn University Business Professor Brian Connelly said if customers don’t understand the importance of following new safety rules, then they won’t follow them.

“People are adopting different positions with respect to reopening. You can go to the grocery store right now and you see some people with masks and doing some disinfecting, and others are adopting a more laissez-faire approach. And there seems to be a little bit of animosity between them,” said Connelly.

And there’s a theory that could explain certain behaviors. Experts said there’s a sociological response to why some people choose to mask-up in the face of danger and why others choose to avoid it.

What sociologists say

Connelly said sociologists are able to use the protection motivation theory to describe how people avoid threatening situations. Some examples include driving safely or getting a flu vaccine.

“You know, you go out for a stroll right now, and some people will just walk right by. Others will give you a wide berth. Still, others might not even come out because they don’t want to engage with people,” said the business professor.

Empathy counts

Connelly said vulnerability, severity of the virus, and protection measures may influence whether someone engages — or does not engage — in behavior that may protect them against COVID-19. But as the state takes steps to overcome this crisis, Connelly said it’s just as important to be empathetic.

“Well, understand that this is not a personal attack. They’re just going through the same mental calculus that everyone is going through, and arriving at little bit different answers,” said Connelly.

Experts said public education will help give people clarity about their vulnerabilities and response to COVID-19.

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