Fiction often tells us all about apocalypses such as zombies, aliens attack, and plagues and prepares our minds. However, even the most unorthodox sense can foretell about the people buying toilet papers. Why are people not buying other household use products like soaps or shampoos? Why is everyone stockpiling toilet rolls? Answers to these questions are difficult to give, but researchers have pinpointed why people are hoarding toilet paper. The most likely reason and common characteristic among the people going crazy over the toilet paper are they’re more emotional, fearful, and conscientious about an event; in a recent case, the COVID-19.
Answer to the question of why our minds compel us to panic buying despite government’ assurances is the psychology of “retail therapy.” Buying these papers is not inspired by their selfish tendency of depriving others instead, it is motivated by uncertainty about the coronavirus and concern for family members during hard times. Even the most moral and humble souls may want toilet papers as long as they fear the pandemic.
“Although stockpiling as a result of perceived threat might be considered selfish by some, it is important to note that it would not necessarily reflect a dispositional luck of prosociality,” the very team states in its report. Given the situation deteriorating with every passing day, people are becoming more prepared for the worst when they rush to buy toilet papers. Even the most twisted minds may have never imagined toilet papers to be on the people’s priority list. Some European manufacturers have reported an almost 700 percent increase in the sale of toilet papers.
However, this is not the first time people have witnessed such kind of unorthodox trend. A similar type of craze was seen a few decades ago when customers with similar mind panicked about buying toilet papers across America. The reason traced out was the media hype created about the toilet paper shortage in Japan.
To better comprehend why people are going for such mass purchasing, psychologists from different universities arranged an online personality survey when the rising infection rates enforce the governments to implement stricter lockdown. Data collected from 1000 people from 35 countries have put forward specific findings.
Firstly, fear of pandemics is directly proportional to the stockpiling of toilet papers. Phenomena of “fear contagion” is at play. For example, when one organization of the government says it is urgent and another assured people that things are under control, people get worried and is the reason why people are stockpiling toilet papers. Tsivrikos, a psychologist, says that a clear voice from the government authorities feels the panic of toilet paper buying. Only saying things are under control will not change anything unless accompanied by tapping them into people’s minds.
Secondly, people with dynamic personalities tend to hoard toilet papers more. People seek self-affirmation when they panic over toilet papers. This self-affirmation is triggered by the over-representation of fear which is in our minds. As a result, we are pushed to do unreasonable things, like buying toilet paper. Thus it overwhelms the knowledge that schools us that we don’t need to do something like this.
Lastly, people who are more concerned and diligent for their friends and family members are more likely to stocking toilet papers. Buying all the toilet papers gives them the feel of taking back control in the world where things are getting out of control. However, it is essential to note that the personality traits mentioned above cover only 10 percent of the real influencers. That means there is a huge bunch of other potential influences that make people rush buying toilet papers. Another important finding made by the report is that older people are a little more likely to purchase. Due to meet the demand for toilet papers, restrictions were imposed in Australia on the amount of toilet paper one can buy.
Panic Buying Begets Panic Buying:
In addition to coronavirus-led buying, there are also some general influences behind people’s rush to buy toilet papers. As panic buying begets panic buying, what people are doing or buying makes you the same. When people see the empty shelves and rush of people, either it is rational or not, it rings the bell of people’s minds that it is the right thing. Since social knowledge has a lot of value and we look to other people for guidance, you are sometimes high jacked, and you are compelled to do what is not right to do. Another report by the University College London posits that people become irrational in uncertainty. That is why people becoming irrational and neurotic by the climbing coronavirus cases are going crazy over toilet papers.
Except for the above mentioned emotional factors influencing our decision making, there are cognitive responses that shape our decision-making in pandemic situations. In this case, we as humans tend to emphasize things more that are recent. That means whatever is vivid and contemporary is more terrible and pushes us to prepare for the worst, even doing some irrational things. Where the buying of toilet papers is concerned, people maybe resembling the current pandemic with the past events like the 1918 Spanish flu. So decision-making influenced by cognitive responses is making people stockpile toilet papers in this crisis.
The Tendency to go to Extremes:
Moreover, people tend to go to extremes when they hear conflicting messages because of this rise of buying toilet papers. The COVID-19 is new, and specific details are still unknown to scientists and general people. People don’t know much about it and how far it will go, so people tend to resort to the extreme. The very rise of people stockpiling toilet paper is the result of this uncertainty.
Practicality Involved in Buying Toilet Papers:
Setting aside irrationality like panic over buying toilet papers, there is also some practicality at play in toilet paper stockpiling. Frank Farley, a professor at Temple University, says that to give ear to the government’s voice of staying home by preparing for hard times is natural. “After all, if we run out of toilet paper, what do we replace it with?”. So practical decision it is to buy toilet papers in why people are buying toilet paper in crisis.
To pen off, it is right to say that people are stockpiling toilet papers because of the fear and uncertainty generated by the COVID-19. Over-representation of fear and sense of self-affirmation where friends and other family members are concerned to compel people to do things that are otherwise irrational like buying toilet papers.
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