Have you recently seen the end of the tunnel of COVID lockdowns, only for it to get worse?
This recently happened in Germany, and it is causing depression in a lot of people.
Throughout December, January and February, nearly the entire country was in a lockdown, and people have been patiently waiting for the infection rates to decrease with the promise that the country would open up again. Throughout February, the infection rates were dropping, which prompted the government to finally start very slowly allowing some businesses to open up again at the start of March.
For some reason, one of the first sets of businesses to open again which got everyone in the media excited were hairdressers, which opened again at midnight on the first of March.
It seemed that the worst of the infection may have now been in the past.
However, once the country opened, the infection rates began to skyrocket again, and within a month the country is discussing the next stages of lockdown.
A lot of people are complaining that it was worse to say the country could open up again, and now they were angrier than they were previously that they are being restricted again.
This is due to a principle called Loss Aversion.
Loss aversion is a psychological principle where it feels significantly worse losing something you felt you had, compared to receiving it in the first place. Statistically, it feels almost twice as bad losing something compared to gaining it.
So even though people knew they weren’t gaining much freedom with an opening of the lockdown, losing that small promised freedom feels even worse again.
Probably the best example was when the government was debating whether to provide an additional public holiday on Thursday the 1st of April, before the standard Easter Good Friday holiday. Nobody was expecting this extra holiday until the discussions began, and the chancellor even said they wanted it implemented. People were excited by the prospect of an unexpected extra holiday. But then within 24 hours the chancellor said it had been a bad idea and took it back, leaving millions of people furious.
All this even though just a week beforehand they had never even thought of having an extra holiday. But now it felt like it had been taken away from them.
So if you look around your own life, and ask yourself what you feel like COVID has taken away from you (or even just potentially taken away what you could have done), then Loss Aversion is the reason why it feels so intensely bad.
Latest posts by Nick Skillicorn (see all)
- Self-Serving bias: Why you think nothing is your fault - August 9, 2023
- We are all sheep - August 2, 2023
- Planning fallacy: Why we are so bad at predicting how long something will take - July 27, 2023
- Pygmalion effect: The self-fulfilling prophecy - July 24, 2023