With these uncertain times we saw a spate of panic buying. This got me wondering why humans would react in this way.
My first thought was that it was the fear of the unknown. We had little to no information or knowledge of COVID-19, how it could be managed or treated effectively. The only information was on China's experience of the seriousness of COVID-19, its impact on communities and the death rate.
With this in mind, and the clearing of essential goods on supermarket shelves, our animal instincts were triggered by what we had control over - protecting ourselves and family by making sure our food and medical reserves were stocked sufficiently when we were in isolation.
We were faced with the unknown. The lack of certainty in terms of treatment for the virus as well as limited supplies of essential goods and protective equipment.
Why is certainty important?
Certainty is the amount of confidence attributed to particular knowledge; like available and effective medical treatment and the replenishing of stocks and supplies to meet demands in a timely manner. The need for certainty is part of the human search for order and security. But certainty is only certainty, as far as it can be. We are certain when we know something is true, and have no doubts. If the facts are unknown, validation is important to convince compliance, in other words 'seeing is believing'. Hence the gathering at the beaches and backyard parties in Bondi instead of practising social distancing.
There are seven fundamental human needs and the seventhissubsistence.
Maslow's hierarchy of human needs are survival, safety, security, self-care, structure and control. Survival needs include physiological needs such as food, water, air, breathing, excretion, reproduction, warmth, shelter, rest, sleep, homeostasis, etc. Safety and security needs include personal security, work, resources, property, and health. Self-care needs include things like leisure, entertainment, healthcare, etc. Subsistence includes everything needed to sustain life.
Individuals also need control and structure their lives to make them feel safe and secure.
According to research by Dr Lauren Leotti and her colleagues, "the need for control is a biological imperative for survival".
Globally, COVID-19 is affecting our physical and psychological health and safety. People are losing their jobs, essential services are stretched with limited resources, and fatigue management is non-existent.
With lockdown and indefinite isolation, humans may develop cabin fever and begin to feel stressed and anxious.
To get through this outbreak, communication and connectivity is essential among colleagues. It provides support and unity in these times of isolation and uncertainty.
Faith Eeson is a safety consultant with FOCCALE Safety Management